Turkish Deputy Prime Minister in Charge of Cyprus Affairs Tugrul Turkes, has said that the Turkish side is maintaining its good will in the talks.
Turkes said that claims that Turkey is only concerned about the Turks living on the island did not reflect the truth and added: “Even if there wasn’t a single Turk living on the island, there would still be a Cyprus issue for Turkey…it is not possible for Turkey to abandon Cyprus“.
Speaking at the conference on the Cyprus issue organised by the Economic and Social Researches Centre (ESAM), Turkes said that Turkey attaches great importance to Cyprus. He further stated that the TRNC has been democratically governing itself for the past 30 years.
Touching on the Cyprus negotiations, Turkes said that the goal in Cyprus is to reach a point of agreement which maintains the interests of both sides at a minimal level. “The negotiations cannot be conducted solely on the demands of one side alone“, he added.
Referring to the population issue, Turkes argued that there has been a miscalculation regarding the population figures on which negotiations were based on in the past. “The calculation that there are 820 thousand Greek Cypriots and 220 thousand Turkish Cypriots is wrong. There are over 300 thousand Turks living in Cyprus“, he added.
The Deputy PM also argued that it was a mistake to exclude the Turkish Cypriots living abroad when calculating the population of the TRNC” “Work is underway to determine the number of Turkish Cypriots living in the UK“, he added.
On the issue of security and guarantees, Turkes said that Turkey will be more actively involved once all that needs to be done is completed and added that Turkey must be granted the four freedoms in Cyprus if there is to be a settlement.
Asserting that there are misguided attempts to put the blame of a non-solution in Cyprus on the Turkish side, Turkes claimed that it was the Greek Cypriot side and not the Turkish Cypriot side which is not secular. He argued: “The Greek Cypriot administration is not secular. The church has power and influence over both the politicians and the people“.