Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu briefed students from the History and Political Science Department of the US Coastal Carolina University on the Cyprus issue and the ongoing negotiation process.

Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mustafa Lakadamyalı and General Director Kemal Köprülü accompanied Minister Ertuğruloğlu during the briefing, which took place at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Briefing the students on the Cyprus issue and the ongoing negotiation process, Minister Ertuğruloğlu stated that a settlement in Cyprus can only be established on the basis of equality.

Stating that the Turkish Cypriot people are not a minority but equal partners on the island, Ertuğruloğlu emphasized that they would never be part of an agreement which recognises them as a minority.

Pointing out that the Turkish Cypriot people were the equal partners of the island during the 1960 Republic of Cyprus, Ertuğruloğlu emphasized that they would never give up their rights and equal statues on the island.

The Minister explained that the 1960 Republic of Cyprus collapsed because of the Greek Cypriots’ refusal to recognise the political equality of Turkish Cypriots. He said “after 50 years of insisting on the same things, it is my personal view that it is not possible to reach a settlement. If we get into a new partnership and if an agreement is signed, Turkish Cypriots should take their place as an equal partner”.

Ertuğruloğlu pointed out that Turkey and the Turkish Armed Forces were not occupiers as claimed by the Greek Cypriot side, and were on the island to ensure the freedom, security and safety of the Turkish Cypriot people.“They are the guarantee of peace and security on this island” emphasized Ertuğruloğlu.

Thanking the students for listening to him, Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu gave an example of the international embargoes imposed by the Greek Cypriots towards the Turkish Cypriots.

He explained children who came from Serbia to Cyprus in order to participate in the 19th International 23rd of April Children’s Festival, were prevented from crossing to the TRNC and deported. Ertuğruloğlu continued as follows:

“Embargoes are imposed on the Turkish Cypriot people such as no international contacts are allowed. Time is being stolen from the negotiating table, and nobody wants to take responsibility for the termination of the process. But we continue to be held under embargoes.

“We should not allow this situation anymore. We have many choices; partnership is not the only option. We are ready to establish partnerships, not as minorities, but as equal partners. If this does not occur, we have to make our way. We have to put forth other options.

“The Greek Cypriots are happy with the present process and the status quo because state facilities were only used by them. The Turkish Cypriot people, who were kicked out from the partnership, are continuing to live under the embargoes.

“We do not want to waste more time on the negotiation table.

“The facts in Cyprus are well known by all international community. A new page should be turned in Cyprus.

“Failure in negotiations should be explained by the UN Good Offices Mission, and everyone should look ahead”.

Ertuğruloğlu also criticized the recognition of the Greek Cypriots as a unilateral member of the European Union, before responding to the students’ questions.

The Minister emphasised that the most important thing for the solution of the Cyprus problem is equality, and stated that the TRNC could open up to the world even in the absence of a settlement, perhaps even seeking international recognition with the support of Turkey.

Responding to a question on hydrocarbon exploration, Ertuğruloğlu stated that Turkey will continue to look out for the interests of the Turkish Cypriot people as it does in other areas, and that they would not allow the Greek Cypriots to take a unilateral step on this issue.

Foreign Minister Ertuğruloğlu indicated that the Turkish Cypriot people will never give up on the guarantee of Motherland Turkey, and emphasized that the Turkish Cypriot people are only assured a place in the world with the guarantee of Turkey.