Giving compensation for properties in the fenced-off town of Varosha/Maras would cause the government a headache, Prime Minister and leader of the UBP Ersin Tatar has said. In an exclusive interview with Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Kibris’, Tatar was asked whether the steps which the government was taking on this issue might cause them trouble. He replied:
“Compensations on the issue of fenced-off Varosha will cause us a headache, because the fact that this place is closed, the Greek Cypriots will try to corner Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights. Varosha has been kept closed for 45 years in order to be given to the Greek Cypriots in the event of a possible agreement. Therefore, a concern exists there. What would be the meaning of keeping Varosha closed any longer after the recent events happening in the Eastern Mediterranean as a result of the unilateral steps taken by the Greek Cypriots on the hydrocarbons issue? Therefore, we have set the target of opening Varosha under Turkish administration”.
Asked whether they were considering allocating properties in Varosha according to the equivalent property law or other TRNC legislation, Tatar replied in the negative, adding that they were in favour of the old owners applying to the Immovable Property Commission or to the EVKAF religious foundation administration, “because Varosha is on TRNC land and a great part of it is the property of the foundation”.
Asked whether the reason for the interruption of the Cyprus negotiations was related to the issue of federation or to the fact that the Greek Cypriot side was not ready for a solution, Tatar replied that the reason for this was the fact that the Greek Cypriots did not intend to share the island’s administration and wealth with the Turkish Cypriots.
“As a matter of fact, Mr Akinci also accepts this. During the talks we held with Mr Akinci he also sees this. However, Mr Akinci says ‘we cannot support two states. Let us give it one more chance’. Very well, after this last chance, what will we do when it emerges that this will not happen? Will we defend a two state solution? I say that the position supported by the UBP for years on this issue is correct”.
Asked what will happen if there is no result in this last move on the Cyprus problem, Tatar said: “The TRNC exists anyway in the north now and the south Cyprus administration is in the south. That is, in the end of the day, there will be two states again”.
Asked what the UBP wanted as a solution to the Cyprus problem, Tatar reiterated that they wanted “two states under the EU umbrella”.
“We have not discussed this issue very much with Turkey, but the messages coming from Turkey are in the direction that alternative solutions should also be on the table and not only an agreement on a federal basis. Because the moment we will begin a negotiating process on the basis of federation only, it would be a continuation of Crans–Montana. On this issue, Turkey’s attitude is that ‘the [negotiation] table at Crans–Montana was overturned by the Greek Cypriots, why should we gather around the same table?’ Previous statements by [Turkish Foreign Minister] Mevlut Cavusoglu exist in the same direction”.
Replying to a question regarding the population living in North Cyprus and asked whether they planned a population census soon, Tatar said:
“Currently around 350,000 TRNC citizens exist in our country. When students, tourists and licensed workers are added, we could say that the country’s population is estimated at 500,000. A population census had been conducted in 2011 under the supervision of the UN. Everybody had remained at home then because a population census would be conducted. This state definitely knows its population. Would it be correct for us to confine people to their homes again?”
Asked whether they grant citizenships and whether there were any suggestions from Turkey on this issue, Tatar argued that they grant citizenship only to those who had the right to become citizens and that Turkey also tells them to give citizenship to those who had the right to take it and not to whoever comes.
Replying to a question regarding the forthcoming presidential elections in North Cyprus, Tatar admitted that making the “right move” on this issue might cause problems in his party and added:
“We have some friends in the party who want to become candidates. This issue will be clarified by the end of October. […]”