On Tuesday evening Ersin Tatar, the newly elected president of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC), met his South Cyprus counterpart Nicos Anastasiades for the first time.
The meeting was arranged by Elizabeth Spehar, the United Nations Special Representative and Deputy Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus.
Ms Spehar hosted the two political leaders at her residence in the Buffer Zone in Cyprus’ shared capital of Nicosia.
The three posed for pictures outside her front door with President Tatar’s TRNC rosette, pinned to his left jacket lapel, drawing media attention. The Turkish Cypriot always wears the rosette.
The two heads of state talked for about two hours during the informal session that aimed to give them an opportunity to discuss current issues and future steps in resolving the long-standing division of the island.
Afterwards, the UN issued a short written statement that the “informal meeting” had provided the two Cypriot leaders “an opportunity to get to know each other and to have their first informal exchange of views in a cordial atmosphere.”
“Mr. Tatar and Mr. Anastasiades expressed their determination to positively respond to the UN Secretary-General’s commitment to explore the possibility to convene an informal five-plus-United Nations meeting, in a conducive climate, at an appropriate stage,” the statement added.
Following the meeting, President Tatar told reporters that he explained the new Turkish Cypriot position of wanting two states as a solution to the decades-long Cyprus Problem and failed federal talks.
“It is our wish and intention to live side-by-side and in co-operation as part of a two state formula in Cyprus, and to manage this process in consultation with Turkey by putting forward our own thoughts, ideas and expectations at a five-party conference,” said the Turkish Cypriot leader.
President Ersin Tatar had also aired his view at the meeting that there was ‘not much hope for a federal solution’ following the events at the Crans Montana.
The critical 2017 summit and settlement negotiations involving his predecessor Mustafa Akıncı and Nicos Anastasiades, and the three Guarantor powers Turkey, Greece, and Britain, collapsed after the Greek Cypriot leader shied away from making a deal.
The TRNC leader said he took care in putting the new Turkish Cypriot position forward without causing offense, and that only general frameworks were discussed.
President Tatar thanked the UN for the meeting in his post-meeting press conference, adding that “the next process will become clearer at the five-party conference.”
Also addressing the media, President Anastasiades described the meeting with President Tatar as occurring “in a friendly atmosphere, as was expected.”
The Greek Cypriot leader said he conveyed his desire for a summit involving the five key parties – the two Cypriot communities, and the island’s three guarantors – but stressed the need to stick to the agreed UN formula of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation of Cyprus.
“Mr Tatar said he was willing to participate in an informal five-party summit, but that other ideas ought to be put on the table.
“I raised the issue of Varosha, and he raised the issue of hydrocarbons,” Mr Anastasiades said.