Northern Cyprus economy minister says equal representation, presence of Turkish soldiers remain barriers to agreement
The continued status of Turkey as a “guarantor power” is a red line for Northern Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriot economy minister said Tuesday.
“The guarantee of our motherland is our red line,” Sunat Atun told Anadolu Agency in Konya, central Turkey.
“The existence of Turkish troops, political equality, equal representation of our rights in the parliament and equality in our constitutional rights is our red line.”
Atun was echoing comments by Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci, who said Sunday that Turkey’s role as security guarantor would have to be part of any successful agreement to resolve the island’s 43-year division between the Turkish north and Greek Cypriot south.
The final stages of UN-brokered talks between the communities in Geneva last week -- also attended by the foreign ministers of guarantor powers Turkey, Greece and Britain -- ended in failure to agree on new borders and the presence of Turkish troops on the island.
The guarantors were assigned when Cyprus gained independence from the U.K. in 1960. As one of the powers, Turkey intervened in 1974 in response to an attempt by Greek Cypriot militants to unify with Greece. Ankara keeps around 30,000 troops stationed on the island.
However, Akinci said the map submitted by the Greek Cypriot delegation last week was unacceptable and plans for a rotating presidency were insufficient.
Atun accused the Greek Cypriot side of trying to dominate the island’s Turkish Cypriot community. “We want a federation in which the Turkish Cypriots are not a minority, have the same rights and are to be formed under the roof of a constituent state,” he said.
Technical and high-level talks are due to resume and Akinci has said a reunification referendum could be held by the middle of the year.