President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) Mehmet Ali Talat met with UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon in New York on Oct. 18, 2007, on an official invitation. For the first time ever, Mr. Talat was received on very high level protocol and security mea-surements with escorts and other provisions provided only to presi-dents and prime ministers in the US. The meeting lasted for 40 mi-nutes, 20 minutes longer than that held with Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopulos late last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Papadopulos tried to play a dirty Byzantine game shortly before the arrival of Mr. Talat to New York. He announced that he had pre-sented proposals and sent a letter to the UN Secretary General only one day before the meeting. His hopes were to manipulate the official meeting of Talat with Ban.
Papadopulos’s proposals consisted of eight articles that were con-fusing and not genuine but rather the same as before. Especially his statement concerning the unconditional opening of the Lokmacı (Ledra Street) border gate for crossings turned out to be a misstatement the next day, as stated by the Greek Cypriot spokesman.
Since the accession day of Greek Cypriots to the EU on May 1, 2004, the Greek Cypriot authorities have tried all means to drag the Cyprus dispute into the EU and solve it there under their patronage. But irrespective of their full range of efforts, backed up by the personnel and diplomats from mainland Greece and working at all levels of the EU, they ended up disappointed.
The EU refrained from handling the Cyprus dispute and lately it has become clear that the only platform to the solution of the Cyprus problem is the UN. UN Secretary General Ban during his talk with Mr. Talat seemed willing to settle the Cyprus problem but frightened of a disappointment and miscarriage of efforts as former Secretary General Kofi Annan experienced because of the “no” votes of Greek Cypriots in the referenda held on April 24, 2004.
Ban and the other high ranking UN officials no longer trust the Greek Cypriot leadership and they will take initiative only when both sides in Cyprus are ready, as they pointed out in the meeting with Ta-lat.
Ban reiterated this sentiment, saying that the UN would only take a new initiative on the island in case of a real commitment by both sides and his message was for the Greek Cypriot side mainly, based on their “no” votes three years ago and unwillingness for a sustainable solution to the problem.
In this meeting, Talat handed over to Ban a package of construc-tive proposals, putting forward confidence-building measures as well as military arrangements aimed at improving relations between the two sides and opening up the Lokmacı (Ledra Street) border gate for crossings.
He also made a genuine proposal to Mr. Papadopulos at a meeting held in Nicosia, the capital of both Southern and Northern Cyprus, on Sept. 5, to set a timetable leading to a sustainable solution, which was refused by the Greek side, proving their unwillingness for a solution and keeping the international recognition to themselves exclusively.
The two leaders will probably meet with each other in early No-vember to discuss implementation of the so-called July 8 agreement, with the aim of improving the quality of life on both sides of the island.
Talks on resolving the Cyprus problem have largely stalled since 2004, when Greek Cypriots rejected a UN-drafted proposal to reunify the island — a plan that was backed by most Turkish Cypriot voters. In May 2004, the Greek Cypriot government joined the European Union as the official representative of the southern part of the island, although EU legislation is not implemented in the northern part of the island, which is governed by the KKTC. Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since 1963, when Greek Cypriots backed by the Greek soldiers from mainland Greece attacked Turkish Cypriots to overtake the Republic of Cyprus, established in 1960.