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Turkish Cypriot FM: Statehood or autonomy as part of Turkey sole options

TURKISH CYPRIOT FM: STATEHOOD OR AUTONOMY AS PART OF TURKEY SOLE OPTIONS

Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu has said that it will either carry out a policy allowing the country to be recognized in the international community as a sovereign state or establish an autonomous region that is a part of Turkey.

According to reports in the Hürriyet newspaper, Ertuğruloğlu said that Turkish Cyprus has two policy options to carry out in the wake of the failure of negotiations.

The minister, who spoke at a meeting with representatives of think tanks and U.S firms at the International Republican Institute (IRI), said that Turkish Cyprus aims to either be recognized in the international arena as a state or establish an autonomous republic as part of Turkey.

"It is now time to start working to be recognized in the international area," he said, adding that Turkish Cyprus is also assessing a second option, which is establishing an autonomous state as part of Turkey proper, similar to the France-Monaco and U.K.-Gibraltar models.

He said that Turkish Cyprus is considering "a model in which Turkish Cyprus is independent in internal affairs and transfers its external and security affairs to Turkey." He said that Turkish Cyprus has not decided yet which model would be applied, adding that they will negotiate the issue with Ankara.

"We want to determine our roadmap before the elections to be held in Greek Cyprus," he said.

During his visit to the U.S last week for the first time following the termination of the reunification negotiations, Ertuğruloğlu touched on Greek Cyprus's oil exploration activities. He said that Turkish Cyprus will not ignore Greek Cyprus's "unjust" oil exploration.

"They have been committing robbery for a long time, but we henceforth won't let it happen," he said.

He added that in case the situation continues, Turkish Cyprus will do "whatever it has to do." He contended that Greek Cyprus is breaching the rights of Turkish Cyprus, stressing that Greek Cyprus did not inform the Turkish side of the island regarding natural gas reserves.

Speaking about the failure of the Cyprus talks, Ertuğruloğlu said that Turkish Cyprus conveyed the message to the U.N. that if there are to be negotiations on the Cyprus issue in the future, it will only work if it is state-to-state negotiations.

He added that the Turkish Cyprus will not negotiate for anything except for a confederation model, stressing that it will not negotiate for a federation model any longer.

Ertuğruloğlu also said that if Greek Cyprus wants to continue to negotiate, it should be discussed in the international community.

"If they don't want to talk with us now, we don't have much time left," he said.

Meanwhile, Jack Straw, who held numerous government posts, including home secretary, foreign minister, and the secretary of state for justice, in the United Kingdom, said in his article published in the Independent newspaper on Oct.1, that the Cyprus negotiations to reunite the island with a "bizonal, bicommunal" government should be ended.

Citing the failure of the 11th international effort to strike a deal, Straw said: "The solution is to partition the island and give international recognition to the Turkish Cypriot state in the north."

The Annan Plan to unify the island was approved in Turkish Cyprus but was rejected by Greek Cypriot voters in a referendum.

"In one of its worst strategic decisions ever, the European Union (sadly, with U.K. acquiescence) had agreed that Cyprus should join the EU on May 1, 2004, whether an agreement had been reached with the Turkish Cypriots or not."

He continued: "To add insult to injury to the north, it is the whole island which formally has acceded to membership, including the unrecognized and unrepresented [Turkish Cyprus]."

Straw concluded that instead of continuing "useless" negotiations, the international community should recognize the partition of the island, adding it would in all probability improve ties between Turkish and Greek Cyprus.

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