President Ersin Tatar receives High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice-President, Josep Borrell 

President Ersin Tatar received the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice-President, Josep Borrell.

The President said the two-hour meeting, held at the Office of the Presidency on Friday, had passed in a “constructive and sincere atmosphere” where discussions were held in relation to the Cyprus issue and the Turkish Cypriot policy, the export of Turkish Cypriot produce to the EU and the eastern Mediterranean issue.

President Tatar said in a written statement following the meeting: 

“We had a constructive and productive meeting with Mr Borrell. I want to express my contentment at receiving Mr Borrell and his delegation at the Presidency, at my working office. 

As it is known, Mr Borrell is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and also the European Commission Vice-President, and as such, we had an opportunity to evaluate our bilateral relations with the EU, the Cyprus issue, the eastern Mediterranean as well as many other issues.

I emphasised the requisite on the need to create an environment of stability and cooperation on the island of Cyprus as well as the eastern Mediterranean region – the objective of which was shared by Mr Borrell.  I explained that the most important factor of achieving this is for the EU to approach the sides in light of the prevailing realities. The Greek Cypriot leadership has no authority or power over the TRNC whatsoever, which they clearly know. I explained our expectation from them in light of the realities. 

I also explained that as a necessity arising from all these facts, we insist that the sovereign equality and equal international status of the Turkish Cypriot people must be respected.

As is known, we have given our consent along with the other four parties, to take part in the five-plus-UN informal meeting at the date and place.  This meeting will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 27 to 29. 

In his invitation letter to me by UN Secretary General it clearly states that the purpose of the meeting is to ascertain whether a common ground exists between the two sides, in order for formal negotiations to be started. I wish to reiterate that at present there is no agreed common ground for negotiations between the sides. 

I shared our new vision with Mr Borrell, stating that we, as the Turkish Cypriot side, are preparing for the meeting in a determined and constructive manner, and will convey our vision in an elaborative manner for a settlement that is based on the sovereign equality of two States which enjoy equal international status in order to reach a just, realistic and sustainable settlement.

As it is known, the most important element of our new vision is the cooperative relationship of the two States. It is with this important element and the acceptance of the current realities that can make Cyprus an island of prosperity and a centre of attraction, rather than being enunciated as an island of tension and problems.  This will also help positively change what is described by all sides in relation to the Cyprus issue as the unsustainable status-quo, and significantly contribute to the security, stability, prosperity and future of the two Peoples, the island of Cyprus and our region. 

I also informed Mr Borrell that we could not accept their participation in the five-plus-UN informal meeting. As it is known, Greece and South Cyprus are EU members and it is not realistic to expect the EU to be a neutral party in these meetings. It is accepted that the informal meeting will be attended by the UN, the two sides in Cyprus and the three Guarantor countries. I informed Mr Borrell, that it would be possible if they want a bilateral meeting. 

Recently, we have with the EU mostly been working on the Hellim (cheese) issue. The final details are being worked on in relation to the registration of the Geographical Indication of Hellim and trading the product through the Green Line Regulation.   The Greek Cypriot side is creating problems which have resulted in the delay of the process. As we have emphasized today, it is necessary for the method used for other produce in respect of being able to trade through the Green Line Regulation, to also be applicable for Hellim.  The obligatory inspections that are required to be carried out by inspectors under Green Line trading must be assigned either by the Commission or by the two Leaders. Our expectation is for this issue to be resolved prior to the convening of the five-plus-UN informal meeting. 

Another matter is that the Greek Cypriot side is creating problems for people wishing to travel to our country – including EU nationals, and they are using pandemic measures as a justification for this action. As we are currently preparing for the post-Pandemic period, it is necessary for this practice which violates the Green Line Regulation to be ended. We have asked for the EU to give the necessary warnings to the Greek Cypriot side on the matter. 

There are also problems in respect of trading potatoes which is one of the most important products traded under the scope of the Green Line Regulation.  This is due to the fact that there is only one person on the inspection list that has been appointed by the European Commission.   Due to the fact that the technical official is unable to reach the crop sowing season, approximately 2,000 tonnes of potatoes could not be traded.  We have asked Mr Borrell to take urgent and practical steps in order to solve this problem. 

As it is known, the EU has prepared a Recovery Fund within the scope of addressing the economic difficulties faced due to the effects caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The plan aims to repair the economic and social damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, where 2.7 billion euros has been allocated to South Cyprus under the scope of the fund over a long-term package.  

The Financial Aid regulation, which was passed by the EU, allocated 240 million euros over a seven-year period for the TRNC. This figure has remained the same. I have requested a share from the fund to be allocated for our side, as has been the case for South Cyprus. This will also help address the economic disparity between the two sides. 

I explained to Mr Borrell, that the TRNC and South Cyprus has suffered economic losses due to the pandemic, and that these losses could be recovered if the two sides could cooperate.   For example, I explained our readiness to cooperate with the Greek Cypriot side which can be started with joint practical steps being taken in the tourism field and the reopening of the crossing points under the old regulations. 

In our opinion, vaccines have not been conveyed to us as desired due to unnecessary obstruction by the Greek Cypriot side. Among the vaccines sent by the EU for the whole island, a figure far below the amount allocated to our people has been delivered until now. With the vaccines available today, this figure is 10,570 doses. In other words, as we follow from EU sources, it is only one in 10 of what the Greek Cypriot side has received. We asked Mr Borrell to take action to correct this mistake as soon as possible. The same is true for rapid test kits. The 75,000 test kits announced to be delivered to us have still not been delivered.

As you know, there is tension in the eastern Mediterranean region due to the hegemonic aspiration and uncompromising stance of the Greek Cypriot side in their refusal to share.  Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has made a proposal for a regional hydrocarbon settlement. Mr Borrell is an official who is working for the realization of this proposal.  We reiterated to Mr Borrell that we are ready to participate in such a meeting on an equal footing and status as the Greek Cypriot side, adding that this will contribute to the peace and stability of our region.”