What does Ersin Tatar’s win imply for Northern Cyprus? | Europe Information

Athens, Greece – Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades is in uncharted waters.

He still hopes to make progress on the UN-sponsored talks to reunite the island, but the newly elected leader of the Turkish Cypriot community is in favor of partition.

At a first meeting with Ersin Tatar on November 3rd, an agreement was reached on a new round of talks under the auspices of the United Nations. But while Anastasiades will talk about a federal state as set out in UN Security Council resolutions, Tatar will propose that other solutions be considered as well.

“We deserve independence,” said Tatar after receiving 51.69 percent of the vote on October 18.

“We are fighting to exist in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Therefore, our southern neighbors and the world community should respect our struggle for freedom, ”he said.

The TRNC was formed after Turkey invaded the island in 1974 in response to a Greek coup attempt. Only Turkey recognizes this.

Talks sponsored by the United Nations have since aimed to reunite the Turkish Cypriot community with the Republic of Cyprus as a federation.

This is the process that the defeated Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci supported.

Ankara supported its opponent after voicing fears of annexation to Turkey. Some believe his loss, with 48.31 percent of the vote, marks the end of six decades of Cyprus reunification talks.

“We had hoped Turkey would be ready to resume negotiations and we had signs of that. The climate now is pretty nebulous, ”said Andreas Mavoryiannis, Cyprus’ permanent representative to the United Nations and former negotiator.

A break with the past?

“I don’t see Turkey accepting a solution for Cyprus that does not mean complete and permanent control,” says Alexandros Mallias, an experienced Greek diplomat. “Turkey will propose an extremely loose confederation with very few powers given to the central government or an annexation process,” he told Al Jazeera.

Osman Kalfaoglu, a journalist in Northern Cyprus, said: “Turkey said that if Crans Montana fails, they will implement ‘Plan B’,” referring to the last failed round of talks in 2017.

“Akinci found other formulas not very viable for a solution. In order to [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, who violated the TRNC electoral laws, promoted Tatar especially in the last days of the election campaign. “

Kalfaoglu believes Tatar will now insist on a two-state solution, but has effectively undermined its own authority.

“Tatar is irrelevant. He does not know the Cyprus problem and has completely handed over the strings to Turkey, ”he said.

Rebecca Bryant, who has been doing anthropological research in Northern Cyprus for 30 years, says Turkey’s apparent participation in these elections “scares the Turkish Cypriots of Turkey’s plans”.

“Everyone, including the winners, is concerned about the level of polarization,” she says. “What we heard from some people in the villages was essentially that they shouldn’t vote for Akinci, that they could vote for anyone other than Akinci, and after the first round there was pressure to vote specifically for Tatar.”

“I think everyone is holding their breath right now to see what will happen.”

The Republic of Cyprus has waited.

“I hope that the positions of the Turkish Cypriot leader are not his ultimate goal until now, because in such a case we will have a deviation,” said Anastasiades three days after the election.

Ahmet Sozen, head of the political science department at Eastern Mediterranean University in Northern Cyprus, pointed out that Turkish Cypriots have switched between presidents of the partition and the federation over the past 20 years.

He believes that by supporting the Tatars, Turkey will “strengthen its negotiating position” before a new round of talks takes place.

Turkish Cypriots would have participated in this partly out of self-preservation.

“Among the 51 percent who voted for Tatar, there are a lot of liberals, businessmen, who thought that if Akinci was elected, Turkey would cut financial aid – ‘we’re going to be in a dire situation, so involuntarily leave this guy to us support ‘.

“My guess tells me that if there is a referendum for a federal solution in Cyprus tomorrow, at least 50 percent of the population would vote for the federation.”

As usual?

“What Mr Tatar says is not new,” said Cyprus’s former President George Vassiliou, who vigorously advocated a solution during his 1988-93 term.

“[Former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf] Denktash always insisted on two states and this was always rejected by the EU and the United Nations. I think it’s an attempt to make an impression. “

Vassiliou remains optimistic.

“It is in Turkey’s interest to solve the Cyprus problem, because Turkey wants above all to get involved in the Eastern Mediterranean and not to be locked out like Greece and Cyprus.”

Cyprus’ discovery of natural gas nine years ago prompted Turkey to conduct its own explorations in the disputed waters of the eastern Mediterranean since 2014.

The EU has denounced these violations of the sovereign rights of Cyprus, but Ankara claims it is acting within an international legal framework.

Turkey’s investigations this year into what refers to Greece as the continental shelf under United Nations maritime law have brought the two countries to the brink of conflict.

Andreas Mavroyiannis, Cyprus’s UN Ambassador, believes that Turkey’s show of force does not indicate any real political change.

“Turkey … puts a lot of irons into the fire and tries to use them all together to win concessions,” he told Al Jazeera.

“They want to put confederation and partition on the table and two-state solutions, and they play on many levels at the same time.

“What Turkey really wants to accept … we don’t know. It will only show in the end. “

On October 6, Tatar stood next to Erdogan when the Turkish president announced that he would annex the abandoned resort of Varosha on the east coast of Cyprus.

“Once Varosha is gone, any hope of putting the country back together is gone forever,” said Fiona Mullen, who heads Sapienta Economics’ management consultancy in the Republic of Cyprus.

Bryant believes that under Erdogan’s leadership, Tatar will agree to UN-sponsored talks, but with a twist.

“I think what is most likely is that the Turkish Cypriots will go to the UN talks to find a federal solution, but ask in writing beforehand that if the talks fail, they will talk about other solutions like partition can. You’re looking for a velvet divorce, or at least a confederation. “

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