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Politics

Turkish-Cypriot Official Sees Brexit Helping Cyprus Reunification

March 3, 2020

NICOSIA – The self-declared Prime Minister of the Turkish occupied northern third of Cyprus, Ersin Tatar, trying to unseat the area’s leader Mustafa Akinci in April elections, said the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union could spur the island’s reunification.

Speaking to the British newspaper The Express after he gave a talk at his alma mater, Cambridge University’s Jesus College, Tatar pushed the UK to support a two-state solution for the island that’s been split since an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion.

Only Turkey recognizes a self-declared republic on the occupied side whose economy has floundered while the legitimate government, a member of the EU Turkey has been trying fruitlessly to join since 2005, has rebounded from a 2013 economic and banking crisis.

Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus and bars its ships and planes and props up the occupation government, with Tatar saying the UK is now free from worry about EU countries vetoing British interests if that government tried to help broker a solution.

Tatar also called for direct flights from London to the occupied side now that the UK is out of the bloc. There are are about 20,000 British expatriates living on the northern side, the whole island at one point being a British colony.

Tatar said that 45 years of trying to bring the two sides together in a federal solution had failed arguing “a forced marriage will not succeed,” as he is a hardliner and opposed Akinci trying to reach a compromise.

He said: “We are different. We speak Turkish, they speak Greek. We are Muslims, they are Christians. The new generation does not know each other at all. A child who was 10 in 1974 is now 55, he has grandchildren. We are separated.”

He added: “Now that the UK is out of the EU it can use some initiatives to make the Turkish- Cypriots more comfortable,” without explaining how that’s in the UK’s interests. “If we have direct flights, especially from the UK, we will enjoy tourism and growth,” he added.

“More than 300,000 Turkish-Cypriots are living in Britain. We have a lot of English people who would like to fly in and out of Cyprus. “If we have direct flights it will benefit our economy because it will increase our competitiveness,” he said.

“We have to work for the future. After so many attempts at rapprochement and Federal basis negotiations they have proved fruitless. “We believe how we can solve the issue on a two-state basis,” that would effectively be permanent separation.

He said he would be willing to reduce the Turkish-Cypriot territorial holdings from 36 percent 30 percent if agreement could be reached and set up joint committees to manage the natural resources on the island.

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