Tatar: Federation is dead and buried
Ersin Tatar, the new President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), has given a message to Ankara, which was not surprising or out of the blues. In two sentences, we can sum up all that he said: “The Federation is dead and buried. We have not been able to live together, we have not reconciled in more than 50 years of talks, and now it is time to discuss how we can live side by side in two separate states.”
President Tatar, who I had been able to chat with for a long time at the hotel where he was staying, was determined more than I have ever seen, and he was very fit. The image of a politician in need of support during the election period has been replaced by a determined practitioner who feeds on one source. He has seen and accepted the fact that he was elected with the support of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and believes that with this support, he can comfortably overcome the big problems ahead.
The government will conduct the upcoming National Unity Party (UBP) congress to discuss matters for assigning the seat of chairperson that Tatar vacated when he got elected as the president and the immediate tasks for the government to take ahead. A meeting with Greek leader Nicos Anastasiades, albeit within a “social framework,” was also high on Tatar’s agenda.
What happens with UBP? Tatar was tightlipped about it. Finally, all five competing candidates have been comrades for a long time. However, it is the will of most, not just Tatar, to choose someone who will work harmoniously with the president and with Turkey, perhaps contribute to the recreation of the balances dissipated during the election process, or manage a consensus approach that might even help setup of a grand coalition with socialist Republican Turks’ Party (CTP) of Tufan Erhürman. Such a coalition might have sufficient parliamentary strength to make a constitutional amendment and carry the Turkish Cypriot state to presidential governance.
We are together
As a matter of fact, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will visit the TRNC after a three-year break on Nov. 15, will do some political engineering as well as attend anniversary ceremonies and a picnic in Varosha. His meeting with Erhürman could be very important. Erdogan, who stayed away from the TRNC because of tensions with former President Mustafa Akıncı, might deliver some good news at his Nov. 15 TRNC anniversary celebrations speech. Reportedly there will be some good news for the growing Turkish Cypriot budget deficit, offsetting increased current needs and deferred infrastructure investments due to the epidemic. “We will deal with whatever is needed. One of us, we are together,” Erdogan expressed, which shows how happy he is upon Tatar’s election as the president.
The Varosha visit may also raise the issue of the announcement of perhaps the second step in the opening of the closed city. Neither Ankara nor the TRNC has any idea of opening the region immediately to anyone other than the citizens of the region. When the region ceases to be a military zone by government resolution, it is planned to call on its former residents to return to their property in accordance with U.N. resolutions. Yet, the region will remain to be a part of North Cyprus territory.
Of course, it is no coincidence that some important Greek Cypriot figures have been in contact lately, both with the Turkish Cypriot authorities and Turkish authorities in Ankara.
Time to talk about new things
Tatar was very clear. He stresses that the must-haves of the Turkish Cypriot people are well known and cannot accept arguments about them. The Greek side insists that Turkey’s military presence in Cyprus and nullifying Turkish guarantor status are indispensable conditions of an agreement. However, he said his people have voted for him to hold these values high, their principles and basic posture, and defend them under all circumstances. “I’m not going to back down,” Tatar said. The new president stressed that the people rejected Akıncı and his defeatist and surrenderist politics and demanded from him that their rights be defended.
What are all these? The most important is Turkey’s guarantor status, which includes the right to unilateral intervention.
Tatar said that the Turkish Cypriots were subjected to major criminal and genocidal attacks between Dec. 21, 1963, and July 20, 1974. “Visitors to mass graves will see the answer to this question why Turkey’s guarantor status is a sine qua non for us. A step back from guarantorship would mean saying yes to Cyprus becoming a second Crete, where Turkish people were either annihilated or forced to migrate Turkey. It is out of the question.”
Could not have a federation, let’s live side by side
Tatar said the elements that form the basis of the concept of federation include sharing management, resources, sovereignty and responsibilities on the basis of political equality. “Greek Cypriots never ever wanted to share sovereignty, administration or resources with Turkish Cypriots. They always suggested to the Turkish Cypriot people that they accept some minority rights within the Greek majority. It’s not something that can be accepted, that can be considered serious. We couldn’t live together. Now we want to talk about the conditions for friendly living side by side, the two-state solution. We’re sincere. We want a solution. Turkey agrees with us on the same assessment.”
Equal share in island resources
Tatar reminded that the Turkish Cypriots have equal rights in hydrocarbons and other resources of the island and its exclusive economic area as much as the Greek Cypriots, under the 1960 agreements and the constitution of the partnership during 1960 state, which has become part of the rule of international law.
Tatar stressed that the international community should not accept the Greek Cypriot usurpation of Turkish Cypriot rights obtained under the founding agreements and constitution of Cyprus, “We will not give up our rights under any circumstances.”
He said Turkish Cypriots made many offers to the Greek Cypriot side to share, on the basis of equality, the resources of the island. But in a spoiled attitude, all the calls fell on deaf ears. “We shall not give up our rights. Turkey will not let anyone usurp our rights and get away with it,” he said.