Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kudret Özersay attended the 45th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation held in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka on 5-6 May 2018.

On the side-lines of the conference, Minister Özersay held bilateral meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Canada, Azerbaijan, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.During the bilateral meetings, Özersay expressed Turkish Cypriot side’s stance and point of view. Meanwhile, Özersay met with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ.

Minister Özersay also took part in the family photo of the meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, in which most of the 56 member states participated at the level of foreign ministers and the TRNC as an observer member under the name of “Turkish Cypriot State”.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kudret Özersay addressed the General Assembly of the OIC.

The full text of his speech is as follows:

“It is a distinct honour for me to address this august audience and extend to you all the heartfelt greetings of my government and people.

I would like to thank the brotherly government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for hosting us and I salute them for opening their doors to hundreds and thousands of Rohingya Muslims who are facing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, just like Turkey who so generously opened her doors to millions of Syrian refugees.

I would also like to extend our gratitude to H.E. Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad al-Othaimeen, Secretary-General of the OIC, and his able secretariat for their incessant support to the Turkish Cypriot state.

 As a Turkish Cypriot, who has endured violent conflict and continue to suffer from its repercussions, I stand here with sadness as so many parts of the Muslim world, including, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Kashmir and Nagorno-Karabakh, are negatively affected by some form of violence such as war, conflict or terrorism leading to major loss of life and displacement, hampering the development and threatening the peace and stability of the OIC geography as well as the world.

This esteemed organisation, which is the collective voice of the Muslim world with a membership spreading over 4 continents, aiming at protecting the just causes of the Muslims all around the world within the spirit of promoting international peace, has the responsibility and, no doubt, the ability to take concrete action for the realisation of peace, solidarity and development within its region. As an observer member of the organisation, we are ready to do our utmost towards this end.

   I would like to take this opportunity to brief your Excellency regarding the latest developments in Cyprus.

We are at an important juncture in Cyprus. As known, the UN Secretary-General called for a “reflection period” after the collapse of the Cyprus conference in Crans Montana, Switzerland, in July 2017. This “reflection period” is a “new window of opportunity” if we are to escape from the vicious circle of negotiations which have become the aim rather than the means to settle the Cyprus question.

The former UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, in his report to the Security Council, on 29 may 2004, in the aftermath of the overwhelming rejection of the comprehensive settlement plan by the Greek Cypriot side, reflected that “the Greek Cypriot side is not ready to share power and prosperity with the Turkish Cypriot side”. The collapse of the recent Cyprus conference has confirmed that this remains to be true.

Hence, if the relevant parties and the international community is sincere about a settlement in Cyprus, it is high time to decide on whether to have “negotiations for the sake of negotiations” or frankly question both the substance and the methodology of the Cyprus negotiations, which has led the sides to nowhere for 5 decades.

“Negotiations for the sake of negotiations”, which merely reinforces the unacceptable status quo, is a non-starter for the Turkish Cypriot side. Hence, during this reflection period, we, as the Turkish Cypriot side, are genuinely questioning the substance as well as the methodology that has come to trap us in never-ending negotiations.

As regards the methodology, Cyprus negotiations lack the much needed result-oriented, structured approach as well as a time-frame/calendar. However, as the 2004 experience has shown, a change in the methodology alone is not enough. What is needed is also a change of mentality so that a “power and prosperity sharing” arrangement in Cyprus would become possible. Nevertheless, such a change of mentality cannot come about as long as the international community, on the one hand, treats the Greek Cypriot side as the “government of Cyprus”, grant them EU membership and support them in their unilateral endeavours as regards the hydrocarbons and, on the other, unjustly isolate the Turkish Cypriot people in all spheres of life, including representation, trade, travel, sports and culture.

This is why the observer member status of the Turkish Cypriot side as the “Turkish Cypriot state” as well as the OIC resolutions on Cyprus which invite “the member states to strengthen effective solidarity with the Muslim Turkish Cypriots, closely associating with them, and with a view to helping them materially and politically to overcome the inhuman isolation which has been imposed on them, to increase and expand their relations in all fıelds”; “… to exchange delegations with the Muslim Turkish Cypriots with a view to exploring the opportunities of economic cooperation, investment in areas such as transport, tourism and information, to develop cultural relations and sports contacts with the Muslim Turkish Cypriots and to encourage cooperation with the Turkish Cypriot universities, including the exchange of students and academicians” are very important.

The said resolutions provide the member states with the basis to establish and develop relations with the Turkish Cypriot State. I would like to call upon the esteemed member states to take steps, in line with the said resolutions, so as to realise these resolutions in practice, which in turn will also contribute positively to the settlement efforts in Cyprus.”