'An Historic Opportunity' Turkish Cypriot Minister Says Reunification Deal Pending

Negotiations to end the division of Cyprus have been ongoing for years. Now, Northern Cyprus Foreign Minister Özdil Nami tells SPIEGEL that a deal is close. And he wants Germany to help with reunification.

Interview by

A Turkish soldier standing at a guard house at the border between Greek and Turkish Cyprus.
AP

A Turkish soldier standing at a guard house at the border between Greek and Turkish Cyprus.


SPIEGEL: You have recently been part of talks in the Chancellery in Berlin regarding the future of Cyprus. Why?

Nami: We have asked Germany for support for the process of reunification. Finally, the two parts of Cyprus -- the Greek south and the Turkish north -- are prepared for this step, after 40 years. It cannot be allowed to fail. It is an historic opportunity.

SPIEGEL: How can Germany help?

Nami: The Germans are strong in the European Union and specialists when it comes to reunification issues. We in Turkish Cyprus compare ourselves with poorer East Germany because we are not part of the EU like the southern part of the island and are only recognized by Turkey. Our university students, for example, are not allowed to take part in the Erasmus and Socrates programs, our businesspeople cannot engage in direct trade with EU countries and there are no direct flights from Europe to Northern Cyprus. There are 860,000 Greek Cypriots living in the southern part of the island and we 300,000 Turkish Cypriots in the north are far behind when it comes to development. We need a special program so that we can achieve EU standards.

SPIEGEL: What would change for Europe if reunification were successful?

Nami: With the large untapped natural gas reserves off the coast, we could help Europe reduce its dependency on Russia.

SPIEGEL: When might a reunification treaty be ready for signing?

Nami: We need only a few months, but that would require the Greek Cypriots to move more quickly.

SPIEGEL: The Greek south is facing significant pressure from ultra-nationalists and there is concern that a renewed failure of the reunification negotiations could result in a two-state solution, which would cement the partition.

Nami: Nobody wants a two-state solution. A federal structure with two, equal parts is what people want. The political will is there. Now, it is time to talk.

About Özdil Nami
  • Özdil Nami, 47, is the foreign minister of Northern Cyprus, the Turkish controlled portion of the island. The Greek controlled southern side of the island is a member of the EU. Reunification negotiations have been underway for years. A United Nations-backed referendum seeking to establish a federation failed in April 2004.

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maljoffre 04/01/2014
1. Turkish Cypriot Min Says Reunificatiuon Deal pending
This would be a splendid interview if there were only one side to this issue, but there are two sides. The "300,000 Turkish Cypriots" in the North include the scores of thousands of "settlers" illegally transported from Turkey by the occupying army to buttress the original Turkish Cypriot population that was ethnically cleansed during the Turkish invasion. If the world is less than welcoming to the north of Cyprus it is simply because the world does not recognise the invasion, occupation and ethnic cleansing of that part of the island. Eastern Germany does indeed, as the "Minister" of the "state" that is not recognised by the international community (including Germany) have relevance to the Cyprus situation: that part of Germany had been invaded, partitioned and occupied by foreign, Russian in that case, troops.
pl1405 04/01/2014
2. Cyprus-Historical opportunity to be realized if there is justice
First of all, it is inaccurate to call Mr Nami a "Turkish Cypriot Minister". There is no Northern Cyprus. There only one Cyprus government (Republic of Cyprus) which is a member of the EU and one legitimate government. What you call "Northern Cyprus" is the illegally occupied territories by Turkey. This soil is part of the Republic of Cyprus, however, due to the Turkish occupation the EU and the Republic of Cyprus law cannot be enforced. Now in regards to the body of the interview, the Cyprus issue is an issue of illegal invasion and occupation of a country (Cyprus) by Turkey. Turkish Cypriots were 18% of the population in 1974 (prior to the invation) and Turkey invaded and occupied since then 37% of the soil of the island. Due to this de facto unjust occupation, Turkey directs the Turkish Cypriots (and the Turkish settlers that came after 1974) to demand a sort of a confederation with equal political rights as the majority of the Greek Cypriot population. What is more, Turkey supports that the solution should deviate from the EU law of free movement and settlement to reflect the national/religious differences of the two communities in Cyprus. The problem can be easily resolved if it is settled on a basis of principles that respect human rights and treats all the Cypriot population equally. The Greek Cypriot refugees who lost their properties in the occupied areas should be given back their properties and the same should happen to the Turkish Cypriots. Each Cypriot citizen (whether Greek or Turkish -Cypriot) should have equal rights and equal representation. The same European principles that apply to the rest of Europe should apply to Cyprus as well (free movement, ownership, etc.). Then and only then the problem will be resolved. There is a reason that the occupied territories are not recognized by the international community. This reason is that it was a result of an unfair war. If the Turkish Cypriot population wants to join the Greek Cypriot community and enjoy the goods of their Greek Cypriot counterparts have, they should be willing to compromise as well. They cannot demand to share the EU membership if they want a separate confederate state. What is more, they cannot enjoy the Natural Gas revenues if they illegally occupy properties of Greek Cypriot refugees that were expelled from their homes as a result of the 1974 war. There are nationalist groups that oppose a settlement on both parts. It is inaccurate to say that "ultra-nationalists" in the Greek Cypriot community oppose the solution. The so called "ultra-nationalists" in the Greek Cypriot community are a tiny minority-so small that it is not even represented in the parliament. What is the equivalent group in the Turkish Cypriot community? Mr.Nami, for the good of all the Cypriots, you have to recognize the injustices that were inflicted to the Greek-Cypriots as well, if you want to be fair and ask for a just solution of the Cypriot issue. Then and only then there can be peace and prosperity for all the population of the island.
ageingandrew 04/01/2014
3. Cyprus reunification
This looks to me as though the reunification offer is because the North wants access to the huge funds held by the EU and no other reason. The Eurozone should look very carefully at what is being offered.
spon-facebook-1434431142 04/02/2014
4. optional
Two equal States ? Ha ha ha ha. Is this what you want ? You equate 800,000 Greeks with 70,000 Turks ? where did you learn equations ???
mikcyp 04/02/2014
5. optional
I fully agree with the comment above. You Turkish Cypriots have been hiding under the skirt of the powerful Turkish regime and troops for 40 years waiting to seize every opportunity to unite with the Greek Cypriots on your own terms forgetting that you allowed Turkey to rule you for 40 years. If you want to reunite with the Greek/Cypriot side why did you accept to be ruled by Turkey? Why you did not revolt against Turkish occupation? Why you accepted the Turkish troops that occupy forcefully 40% of the island? I can tell you why!! It's because you want the best of both worlds. You want to be part of Turkey and be united with the real and only one CYPRUS. You are using Turkey to help you suppress the Greek Cypriots and dominate in the new supposedly state that you want equally to coexist. You never really care for the good of Cyprus as an island. You proved it by staying there for 40 years doing nothing. You are opportunistic and you forget that you live in our houses and properties that your "mother Turkey" forcefully has taken in 1974 by murdering innocent people. Shame on you Mr supposedly Cyprus Minister Nami. You are a minister of a non recognized occupied area that Turkish troops are allowing you to say that you are a Minister. Do you understand this??? Do you? Non recognized area!!! Firstly Mr Minister of the area you have to ask the Turkish troops to return back to there homeland Turkey and then come and sit down as a Cypriot Turkish minority and discuss how best we can reunite the island and live peacefully all together. You need to decide where you belong, you seem to have an identity crisis. You are Cypriots when you want to reunite and you are Turkish when you want to negotiate the terms of the unification with Turkish troops occupying forcefully e north part of the island.
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