Doha -Al Raya
HE Ms. Emine Colak, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, confirmed the Qatari experience is inspirational for her country in the interest in education, management and development of resources and wealth in order to achieve progress and prosperity for the citizens. She expressed yesterday in a meeting with Al Raya on the sidelines of her first visit to Doha, she was impressed by the humanitarian role played by Qatar at the regional and international levels and to help the stricken peoples in various crises. And she stressed that Qatar is a peacemaker supporting ways of dialogue and peaceful solutions to resolve disputes and conflicts, including the conflict between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Greek Cyprus, referring to her optimism that 2016 carries the end of the conflict. She also said that Cyprus suffers from split between the two parts, Turkish in the north and Greeks in the south since 1974. The Greek Cypriots have rejected the UN plan to unite the divided island and they voted against unification in2004. Colak revealed the existence of several tourist and investment opportunities for Qatari in her country confirming in another context her confidence in the organization of Qatar World Cup which is impressive for all in light of what she has seen of elaborately planning and organization of Qatar for many of the major international tournaments, and other details in the following dialogue:
How was your visit to Doha and the discussions with the Qatari side?
This is my first visit to the State of Qatar and I found it’s a highly advanced country, especially in the field of education and I think that in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus we could learn a lot from its experience and development and the resources management. In our country we focus on countries that we can build bridges with, especially on the commercial and financial levels, because the world does not progress without cooperation.
How would you describe the bilateral relations between the two sides?
We have a very good relationship and the Qatari officials are on a high degree of maturity, education and openness to others. I visited Katara cultural district and I liked it so much because I have not seen like it in the world, neither in Europe nor the United States and I want to congratulate them for this. I’m thinking with my accompanying delegation, to organize joint events with Katara to discover each other’s cultures. Qatar is open to Turkish Cyprus and we want that the world recognizes our society and approaches to it without any barriers or prejudges. Are there any specific reasons for the visit other than to strengthen relations? Our country is divided, but currently we are having serious talks toward unity, and therefore itis an important timing to connect with the world and explain the developments and efforts spent to solve the conflict, especially that the leaders of the two sides in Turkish and Greek Cyprus are doing their best and improving in their dialogue, therefore, we want to prepare for after the talks and Unity to open the doors for investment and development.
What about the investment opportunities available for Qataris in your country?
There are multiple fields for investment, including tourism, since we have a mild climate most of the year and spectacular nature, water and mountains sports and other attractions. There is also a chance to establish more luxury hotels and at the same time there are opportunities for investment in infrastructure, as well as the investment in the field ofports, because our country is an island.
Have you talked with the Qatari side about these opportunities?
Yes, we talked about a lot of ideas that could pose opportunities for investment and Qataris are very interested to see things on the ground.
The Qatari role
How do you see the regional and international role of Qatar?
I wish to express my admiration for the Qatari humanity actions towards the peoples who suffer and its permanent readiness to take part in alleviating the suffering of the victims and I think that Qatar has a pivotal role as a peacemaker and dialogue encourager to resolve conflicts by peaceful means.
After your visit to Qatar how didyou see its ability to organize the World Cup 2022?
Qatar might be lucky to organize the World Cup, but the World Cup is luckier to be hosted by Qatar and it would be amazing for the world to come and discover Qatar through the activities of the World Cup. Qatar has a lot of sports stars and is making significant efforts and has future plans inthe sport field, although it remains 6 years to the World Cup, however, Qatar began to develop and build many facilities as it is organizing many international tournaments at the highest level for years and for that, it has accomplish a lot to be proud of.
The Qatari Gas
Did you discuss the cooperation to build any stations to receive Qatari gas?
There are a lot of opportunities in several ways, for example, water tube has been extended from Turkey to the Turkish Cypriot, it is a very large project and it started to flow the water, and are now working on investments in infrastructure and management. This shows how we work with our neighbors to reach effective and useful projects, we also explored hydrocarbons around our lands, and researches indicate that on the island of Cyprus a lot of resources which we cannot take advantage of them without the cooperation between the two sides on the island and in the region with our neighbors. There is no conclusive decisions, but there are a lot of opportunities and possibilities and the most important is to reach a solution to the conflict.
Solution of the crisis
Do you think that this solutionis soon?
I wish so, the leaders of the two sides, the Turkish and Greek Cyprus have met several times and their remarks are positive and have very constructive messages which show that they have the same vision and determination to the implementation.
These statements were repeated in previous years without having any resolution…What is the new now?
Yes, but I think that the most important thing is the shared vision that the two countries’ leaderships have and their commitment to reach a solution in front of their people, as they enjoy a mutual understanding. But the island, the region and the whole world are certainly ready to resolve the Cyprus issue; there are a lot of private economic gains in the case of the solution and a lot of loss in the case of non-implementation.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges to this solution and how to overcome them?
The issue of the property is of the biggest challenges because it is the result of various conflicts in the island and the separation of the north from the south, some people have a property on the other side and they want to restore it or compensate for it, others don’t want to go back, so all these issues are discussed. And also the issue of power-sharing and the formation of a Federal Authority which has its representatives of each side democratically and the guarantors issue for peace in Cyprus. We have three guarantors which are Greece, Turkey and Britain, will have in the end five representatives in the Federal Authority, two communities for Turkish and Greek Cyprus inaddition to the guarantors which is another challenge We have also another challenge which is not to join the EuropeanUnion after that the Republic of Cyprus excluded us; in the case of reaching a solution we will find ourselves in the European Union and we must be prepared for it.
British minister Philip Hammond said that the solution is imminent … Does that mean that there is an international will to resolve the conflict?
Yes certainly, this issue does not happen behind the scenes, the three guarantors are expressing their support for the resolution of the United States and the European Union and also the United Nations which is the platform of negotiations and, of course, it want to reach a solution to that conflict that lasted 50 years so far which is too long time. The world is witnessing tensions across multiple regions, it is good that positive development occur in this issue.
GCC How areyour relations with the GCC countries and the Islamic world?
Turkish Cyprus has got a state observer status in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and we have formal offices in the Gulf Cooperation Council which help us to a constant communication with these countries.
To what extent was the Turkish Cyprus affected by Syrian refugees’ crisis?
Syria is very close, but the flow of refugees passing through Turkey then Greece and from there to Europe; coming to Cyprus is a foregone conclusion because it is an island and they cannot cross to the other side of Europe.
Some people claim that the Turkish Cyprus can be a gateway to the transit of terrorists
We did not hear about indicators of terrorism or any serious attention in Cyprus in this regard and we hope to remain so. We are vigilant and we are watching closely to make sure that nothing will happen, but the conflict remains a conflict and you cannot predict what may happen; ifchanges have occurred inthe region, ifthe flow ofrefugees has happened, we have to be ready for it,because at the end it is a humanitarian issue.
The withdrawal of Turkish army from northern Cyprus is one of the demands of the Southern Cyprus… what are your thoughts?
This matter was repeated several times in previous years and it has never succeeded. The Turkish army will not withdraw without solution, which means we have to reach a solution first. Both sides agreed to implement six classes to solve problems and examined one by one, such as power-sharing, joining the European Union, the economy, the guarantors and properties. So we left the issue of the Turkish army to the guarantors’ class, for that, I do not think that it is helpful for any side putting preconditions, because the leaders are agreed on the discussion of these things step by step in a full openness, because it is a single package not a separate things; perhaps the year 2016 will witness an agreement that brings us to a referendum among the people ofbothcountries.
In the past years there have been positive statements but without reaching the crisis’ resolution… are there any guarantees this time?
There is no guarantee in the solution, but honestly we don’t forget the past frustrations especially in 2004, there was a solution and we went to a referendum, the Turkish Cypriot said yes, however, Greek Cyprus voted “no” and they became part of European Union as we have been excluded. This was disappointing but this time I am more optimistic which it is a cautious optimism and we have to believe that the solution is possible and we make all our best efforts in order to reach it, and this is what we are doing now.
What areyour ambitions for the relations with Qatar?
We wish to return again to Doha to follow up on what we have started and to promote cooperation in the fields of culture and education, we have a university sector by 12 universities and we will reach out with officials to discuss the establishment of joint ventures and build bridges for education whether by scholarships or exchange program for students and working on some research projects beneficial to both peoples. I am sure that there are many areas in which we can cooperate by and benefit from each other through a private education and good resource management and diversification of the essence of progress and development.