– Says EU committed mistake by giving membership to Greek Cyprus; calls upon OIC to take bold stand on this issue; hopes breakthrough by March, April next year; says this is last chance for island’s re-unification
Ansar Mahmood Bhatti
LEFKOSA, NORTH CYPRUS, NOV 17 (DNA)- Dr. Dervis Eroglu President of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has said Pakistan is a sincere friend of Turkish Cypriot people adding TRNC is looking forward for forging even deeper ties with Islamabad. He expressed these views while giving an exclusive interview to Diplomatic News Agency (DNA), and Centreline at the Presidential Palace.
The President of North Cyprus further said, “We are thankful to Pakistan for granting special status to our representative that makes us so happy. Pakistan’s this gesture shows proximity of relations between the two countries”.
He further said, he would love to visit Pakistan and meet with the people of Pakistan. “Our former President Mehmat Ali Talat visited Pakistan once and I can say the visit was fruitful”. He hoped reciprocal visits will certainly contribute greatly towards building even stronger linkage between the two sides.
Dr. Dervis added, Pakistan was among the first countries that showed willingness to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. “Pakistan happens to be our best friend and I can say Pakistan is included among those Muslim countries from where support for us has always been forthcoming”, he added.
He said, Turkish Cypriot people have great love and affection for Pakistani people, which is growing with the each passing day. “There are a number of Pakistani students studying in TRNC universities apart from a good number of Pakistanis employed in various departments here. These people in fact serve as a bridge between the two states he added.
On a lighter note the President said, we have some son-in-laws from Pakistan as well who are married to Turkish Cyprus girls. That is another plus point that brings us further close.
To a question about OIC’s role vis a vis Cyprus issue, the President said, the OIC is good for only discussions. It is quick in adopting resolutions but unfortunately when it comes to implementation of the resolutions, it fails to act. Of course, we expect an enhanced role from the OIC. It has to do something tangible in order to lift embargoes on North Cyprus. Unfortunately, so far the OIC countries have not done enough towards this end.
Giving a brief account of his recent contacts with the UN special envoy on Cyprus Alexander Downer the President said the UN has prepared draft of a joint statement, which we have accepted with a little bit of modifications. However, the Greek Cypriot side has rejected the said draft and instead they have prepared their own draft.
For last two months we have been exchanging the draft and sans reaching a consensus on it. We had a meeting with Alexander Downer recently in which we submitted a draft and told him that it is going to be the last draft from our side.
The President said, we have proposed to the Greek side that we should sit on the negotiating table without the joint statement in order to seek a solution but our proposal has not been entertained by the Greek side.
Talking about the failure of the Annan Plan, Dr. Dervis Eroglu said ostensibly it was the Greek Cypriot side that rejected the Annan Plan by saying no to referendum held in 2004 under the aegis of the United Nations.
Unfortunately the then leadership of Greek Cyprus spearheaded the “No” campaign due to which the Annan Plan was rejected by the Greek Cypriots and thus all efforts to unite the island went down the drain. “As you know the Turkish Cypriots had accepted the Kofi Annan Plan with a big ‘Yes’ vote, which manifested their strong desire for re-unification of the island”.
To yet another question President Dervis Eroglu said, a breakthrough may be achieved in March, April next year because we have been discussing this issue for decades now. In next year the Cyprus problem shall be 50 years old and we think there has to be a solution of this issue now.
Six chapters are currently under discussion and a threadbare discussion has already been held by the both sides on these chapters, except security and guarantees issue. “Cyprus issue can be resolved in three months provided there is a will from the Greek Cypriots side”, he added.
He said, people are gradually becoming wary of the situation and if the issue remains unresolved it might create problems in the coming days. The delay in resolution of the issue in fact is adding to disappointment of masses and they may lose their patience and confidence if this issue is allowed to linger on.
When asked to comment what is the first preference of the Turkish Cypriot people and what would happen if the talks are collapsed again, the President said, this is of course a matter of concern because if we are failed to reach an agreement then people may think about other options. This is going to be a last chance towards re-unification of the island, he added.
“This is a fact that there is a state in the South and there is a state in the North so if we cannot reach an agreement the two states would continue to exist. People of TRNC, as you might have observed, are committed to guarding their state and will continue their journey towards progress and prosperity in any case”.
To a question about Greek side’s fears about the re-unification the President said the Greek side cannot see Republic of Cyprus turning into a partnership state. And second issue is that Turkey’s status as a guarantor power will remain in place.
“There was a clause in the Annan Plan that the presence of Turkish troops on the island will gradually be decreased and will be brought to 650 troops in 18 years of time period. Even there might a complete withdrawal of Turkish troops at the end of the day if everything goes well.
When asked what exactly the Turkish Cypriots wanted, a confederation or a federation, the President said, “we obviously want a federation based on bi-communal and bi-zonal arrangement. When we say a federation, it may be a mix of Swiss and Belgian models’.
To a question about European Union role, Dr. Dervis said the EU of course did not fulfill its promises. He said former UK foreign minister told him once that’ we had committed mistake by admitting the Greek Cypriots into the European Union after they rejected the Annan plan in 2004’.
The then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had submitted a report to the United Nations that after the referendum there was no reason to keep Turkish Cyprus under embargoes therefore the UN embargoes should immediately be lifted. However Russia vetoed that resolution to support the Greek Cyprus.= DNA
NOTE: DETAILED TITLE PAGE INTERVIEW WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE COMING ISSUE OF CENTRELINE