At a press conference last Friday, Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu announced that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been pursuing a policy to remove the uncertainty imposed on Turkish Cypriots for many years.
When questioned about speculation from the Greek Cypriot media and politicians regarding negotiations being resumed, Ertuğruloğlu asked, “Which negotiations? Is there something new to discuss?” Ertuğruloğlu also stated that it was not possible to reach an agreement with the same strategies that have been used over the last 50 years.
When asked whether Greek Cypriots could accept Turkish Cypriots as equal partners in the negotiations, Ertuğruloğlu replied that recent documents distributed in Greek Cypriot schools categorising Turkish Cypriots as one of the four minorities on the island had proven otherwise. Pointing out that the Greek Cypriot side has achieved global recognition as the so-called “Cyprus Republic”, Ertuğruloğlu said that Greek Cypriots will continue to impose embargos on Turkish Cypriots and to blame Turkey as an occupant while preventing Turkish Cypriot initiatives in the international arena for as long as their recognition as the ‘Republic of Cyprus’ continues. He also added that the so called ‘Republic of Cyprus’ is ultimately considered to be a Greek Cypriot state.
Answering questions on his decision to tax supplies entering the TRNC from the Greek Cypriot side, Ertuğruloğlu said, “Our intention is not to impose taxes, but to end the Greek Cypriot perception that they are “assisting their captive citizens who live under occupation.”
He continued, “Today, Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the North can travel freely to the South. They run their own businesses and earn an income. Their relatives and friends from the South can visit them. They do not need any aid. If they need anything, we are ready to take responsibility for them as the TRNC government,” said Ertuğruloğlu.
In response to a question regarding religious ceremonies, Ertuğruloğlu stated that a positive response was given to 96 out of 128 religious ceremony requests in 2015, with religious ceremonies being held for the first time in 20 new churches. He also reported that 109 out of 163 requests were approved in 2016 when religious ceremonies were held in 5 new churches. Minister Ertuğruloğlu also said 107 requests to hold religious ceremonies have been issued in 2017, with 68 approved thus far.