North Cyprus leader pushes two-state proposal for upcoming UN talks

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Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said he hopes his proposal for a two-state solution to the island’s conflict will bring a “new vision” to United Nations-led talks this week, despite its prior rejection by Greek Cypriots.

The United Nations is hosting informal talks starting on Tuesday over Cyprus, which was split between a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north in 1974. It has invited the island’s two communities and foreign ministers of the three guarantor nations - Turkey, Greece and Britain - to attend.

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Previous talks on reunification under a federal umbrella, as called for in UN resolutions, have failed. Northern Cyprus has since called for a two-state solution, but Greek Cypriots - who form the island’s internationally recognized, EU member government - reject this as it implies Turkish Cypriot sovereign authority.

In a Skype interview with Reuters, Tatar, president of Northern Cyprus, which is only recognized by Turkey, said more than 40 years of talks on a federal system had been unsuccessful and a more “realistic” approach was needed.

“I’m going there (Geneva) to put forth my new vision. My new vision is two sovereign states living side-by-side in a good, unneighborly relationship, to cooperate in any way, to promote welfare for all Cypriots,” Tatar said.

“When I say two states, I obviously mean the recognition of the Turkish Cypriots. We are as sovereign as the Greek Cypriots.”

The three-day Geneva meeting involves informal talks to see if common ground can be found to move into formal negotiations. Tatar has rejected an EU request to attend as an observer, saying it could not be objective due to the Greek Cypriots’ EU membership.

If the Greek Cypriot side rejects the two-state formula, Tatar said he would continue to make the case, together with Ankara, for the sovereignty of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

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