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Turkish Cypriot president says ‘a little flare-up’ could turn Cyprus into new Gaza

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Ersin Tatar, president of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), has warned that “a little flare-up’” could turn the island into a conflict zone like Gaza, in an interview with British daily The Telegraph published on Thursday.

Tatar, who is not seen as head of state by the international community, also hinted that Azerbaijan, Bangladesh and Pakistan could soon recognize the KKTC.

This year marks the 50th anniversary since an Athens-backed coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece triggered a Turkish invasion that divided the island in 1974.

Only Ankara recognizes the KKTC, which was proclaimed by Turkish Cypriot leaders in 1983.

“A mistake or a misunderstanding such as the shooting of a Turkish soldier on the Green Line … would provoke a bomb between the two populations,” Tatar was quoted as saying.

“If you shoot one Turkish soldier, you will have 10,000 soldiers on the ground,” he added.

“Everyone should be calm and reasonable. The Turkish Cypriots are not alone – we have 85 million Turks behind us, and they are only 40 miles away.”

“A little flare-up, that’s what people are afraid of. Look at what happened in Gaza. And before that, Ukraine. Before that, Bosnia,” he said.

He described possible efforts to find a federal solution to the Cyprus problem as “a “waste of time,” adding, “It’s all in the past. All these possibilities have been exhausted.

“How can you unite such an island after so many years? You cannot possibly unite Cyprus. You have to accept the facts and accept reality,” he said, adding that the “only way forward is a two-state solution.”

After his meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York on Friday, Tatar said they would celebrate the anniversary of the “Turkish peace operation in Cyprus,” as he called the Turkish invasion, on July 20, 2024.

He expressed the hope that the international community will “wake up” and “recognize the reality” that there are “two peoples, two democratic states, two authorities” in Cyprus and that a lasting solution can only be achieved through the cooperation of “the two existing states in Cyprus.”

The Cypriot government criticized Tatar’s remarks as unconstructive, emphasizing efforts towards resuming negotiations and envisioning a united Cyprus that ensures peace and prosperity for all its citizens.

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