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Talat on Northern Cyprus' future


Talat on Northern Cyprus' future


Mehmet Ali Talat is the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a state whose autonomy is recognised only by Turkey. The status of Northern Cyprus remains a stumbling block in Turkey’s relationship with the European Union. A new initiative from Republic of Cyprus President Demitris Kristofias, however, could provide a resolution to the stand-off and President Talat is ready to negotiate the future of the island. Euronews met him in Brussels.

EuroNews: “President Talat, welcome to EuroNews. You look pretty optimistic about the negotiations on the future of the island, what is according to you the main obstacle?”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “The problem with the Greek-Cypriot side is the rejectionist forces position, the former (pdt) Papadopoulos and his party is still a coalition partner of Mr Kristofias. In the national council they are present; church is very, very powerful, extremely powerful and Mr Kristofias is obliged to listen to them also.”

EuroNews: “Also your side must deal with pressures from outside, external pressures like the Turkish one, for instance.”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “I’m very comfortable, I’m getting full support from Turkey, I don’t have any problem and I know that without any full support of Turkey I cannot be successful. So I don’t have any problem. If I’m on the negotiating table, this means that I’m getting the support of Turkey.”

EuroNews: “One of the most important chapters is about settlers and settlers are coming from Turkey and this is a big problem apparently.”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “It is not a big problem.”

EuroNews: “Well, according to the other side, yes…”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “Settlers, which is not the good word, not the good term to describe those people, because they are living in the island more than 20 or 30 years and they are somehow cypriotized, this is a humanitarian issue and a humanitarian matter can be solved in line with the international practice; so we are ready to solve this problem in line with the international practice and international law.”

EuroNews: “Haven’t you the impression that however some powers in Ankara are using the issue of this immigrants, say, if you don’t accept the term settlers?”

Mehmet Ali Talat:“How?”

EuroNews: “For other political purposes?”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “What other political purposes?”

EuroNews: “For instance the relation between the current government and the army.”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “The settlers, the immigrants, how?”

EuroNews: “Well, a policy of occupation.”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “Policy of occupation? The relationship between the government and the military?”

EuroNews: “It’s a policy of occupation, this is their point of view… I’m asking you the question.”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “Really I don’t understand the question, if I can, I can answer.”

EuroNews: “To reach an agreement like in the case of the Cypriot one it is also a matter of balance between the two communities.”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “What type of balance?”

EuroNews: “A balance of population, a demographic balance.”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “They are 700 thousands, 600 thousand, Turkish Cypriot 200 thousand, so what type of balance they are seeking… I don’t know. We shouldn’t differentiate and discriminate people according to where they are coming from, and this is very important, crucial.”

EuroNews: “How about the property issue? because this is another important topic.”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “Property issue will be solved in terms of either compensations, or exchange or restitution. There are three options. And an agreement will have provisions regarding this issue.”

EuroNews: “Another important issue is the presence of Turkish troops in the Northern part of the island. Do you think that once an agreement is reached, these troops will leave?”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “According to the guarantee and alliance agreement now, 650 Turkish and 950 Greek soldiers will stay in the island. The problem is this: if you go on the streets and ask to Turkish Cypriot whether they want the presence of Turkish troops or not you will find that this is almost 95%. Why? Because of mistrust. So, the presence of Turkish troops is very crucial and very important for Turkish Cypriots, even if this is a symbolic number, it is a symbolic number.”

EuroNews: “Don’t you think that Cyprus is a sort, maybe hostage is to strong, but it is part of the Turkish strategy in its negotiations with the European Union?”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “Turkey is not using Cyprus as a bargaining chip in the European Union affairs, but the European Union, at least some countries of the European Union and Greek Cypriot side are using Cyprus.”

EuroNews: “Haven’t you the impression that, however, Cyprus is used by Turkey for domestic purposes?”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “Cyprus problem is a national problem for Turkey and you are right that some political forces use Cyprus issue in the domestic politics. This is a reality, although pity, but this is a reality. In that sense I agree, but again the majority of Turkish People, in Turkey, are very sensitive on the Cyprus problem, but they are not opposing a solution to the Cyprus problem.”

EuroNews: “How do you imagine the constitutional form of a future reunified Cypriot state?”

Mehmet Ali Talat: “This is a very important question, a new partnership state will be formed and this partnership state will be based on the political equality of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Political equality does not mean numerical equality, but it means effective participation to the decision making and to the implementation. A federal state based on bi-zonality and political equality of the two peoples. This is very crucial for Turkish Cypriot.”

EuroNews: “Thank you very much, president.”

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