The Desperate Cry of Turkish Cypriot Civil Society. Is Ankara Heeding?

Written by Dr Yiorghos Leventis*

Writing a new analysis on the current state of affairs with regard to the never ending saga of the deep-frozen conflict in Cyprus can be an equally unrewarding task for commentators, political analysts, academics and the like. Over the decades, endless rounds of talks fail to transcend the negotiated settlement process into a happy conclusion. The frustrated spectator wonders: in the grand scheme of things what is new on the Cyprus front? What is worth commenting on and on which aspect could a concerned citizen express a thoughtful opinion beyond the tedious reports on the ‘nth meeting of the two community leaders’?

Having passed the twentieth anniversary of my continuous uninterrupted pre-occupation with the history and the current state of affairs with regard to the ‘Cyprob’ I occasionally feel that what has to be said has already been said; there is no point going through the same ground time and again … As time goes by, as intermediaries, go-in-betweens, UN special representatives and US/UK/EU special envoys come and go without much success – though not total failure as they do leave behind the body of work to be used in the next nth round of bi-communal talks – to write a meaningful results-oriented point of view on the current state of bi-communal public affairs in Cyprus can be a daunting task!

Nevertheless life on the island has to move on, especially in the northern part which has been assigned to a limbo condition after the Turkish military intervention of 1974. Thirty years later the accession of the Republic of Cyprus into the EU accompanied by the suspension of the implementation of the European acquis in the Turkish-controlled part only served to prolong the undecided state of the northern 36 per cent of Cypriot land. (Lest we forget another 3 per cent is mostly unused fertile land forming the buffer zone).

Naturally such a state of affairs has been disadvantageous for the Turkish Cypriots. Today, more than ever, there is among them a growing concern if not outright ire with the continuous meddling and heavy-handed manner with which successive Turkish governments intervene in the internal affairs of Cyprus, perhaps unwillingly, however pragmatically destroying the fabric of the indigenous Turkish Cypriot community.

Statements calling on Ankara to restrain the influx of penniless hordes from the Turkish mainland emanate now from no less a dominant historical political figure than Rauf Denktash, the veteran Turkish Cypriot leader and arch-architect of the 1983 UDI. With the advent of the new year, Denktash reportedly called for a census in the self-styled ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’. Bygone are now the days when Denktash – while in power – would dismiss the opposition’s criticism about the unchecked influx of settlers compounded by the departure of Turkish Cypriots in his typically unconcerned offhand manner: “one Turk goes another comes”. Now both him and his son Serdar bring home the point ‘enough is enough’ with Ankara’s Cyprus policies …

A sharp-eyed observer cannot fail to note that the flagrant manipulation of the Turkish Cypriot society by Erdogan’s administration is equally severely criticized by TC civil society/trade union leaders. Below is the statement of Sener Elcil, Secretary General of the Union of Turkish Cypriot Teachers (KTOS) entitled Mr. Erdogan’s Statements reveal the real goals of Turkey in Cyprus. I cite it in its entirety as it is short and eloquent. It is a clear reflection of the immense frustration and huge disappointment and ire against Turkish policies felt in the Turkish Cypriot civil society conscience:

“We follow with particular interest the evaluation by the Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Erdogan, of the visit to our island by the German Chancellor Mrs. Merkel.

Mr. Erdogan’s statements reveal the real goals of Turkey in Cyprus.  Mr. Erdogan behaves as if it were not the Government of the Party of Justice and Development and the Turkish state which annihilate the Turkish Cypriot community, a partner on an equal footing in the Republic of Cyprus. As if it were not Turkey which is transferring population and neutralize our political will, imposing the so called economic packages and force us to immigrate. As if it were not them who built mosques in every corner, assimilating the Turkish Cypriots.

Striving to appear as the side which wants solution and asking Mrs. Merkel to apologize because she has referred to these realities, constitutes a political distortion. We remind Mr. Erdogan that Turkey is a guarantor of the Republic of Cyprus together with Greece and Britain. Supposedly Turkey is in Cyprus to protect the territorial integrity and the constitutional order of the Republic of Cyprus. Mr. Erdogan should know that the transfer of population, the creation of dividing structures, the distribution of Greek Cypriot properties to Turkish nationals and all that Turkey has done in Cyprus contravene International Law and are not included in its duties as a guarantor.

Your outburst against Mrs. Merkel who reminded you of all these as well as your accusation that she lacks knowledge on the Cyprus Problem, cannot cover these realities. How easy you have forgotten that it is you who ‘slept’ on the 65% of the Yes vote by the Turkish Cypriots at the referendum and without making a step forward towards a solution, you revealed your real goals by stating  that ‘we did not give away a single stone’.

Once more you revealed your real goal by saying that you will not give away a single gram of north Cyprus, forgetting, however, that the real owner of this land are all the Cypriots. With what right are you  bargaining with our land? Cyprus is not the property of your fathers.

It should be made clear that if there is somebody who should apologize for his actions which push the Turkish Cypriots to immigration and to assimilation, this is you.”

Hard Questions Ahead

Ironically, the colonization of the northern part of Cyprus with the unemployed and the low-educated from ‘motherland’ Turkey is reaching immense proportions at a time when the government of the Republic of Cyprus has met almost all applications of indigenous Turkish Cypriots granting 80,000 Republic of Cyprus identity cards and 58,000 passports.

Are they lunatics who argue we arrived at the stage of a truly multi-cultural EU member-state in the South and the verge of a pure Turkish protectorate in the North? Is it not the aim of our common Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot struggle to stave off Ankara’s expansionism and endless meddling in Cypriot affairs? If we fail we are doomed to surrender control of our beautiful common island to the Erdogan-Davutoglu duo, aren’t we Mr. Denktash?

*Dr Yiorghos Leventis is Director, International Security Forum. The present article constitutes his contribution to the collective publication on “The Cyprus Talks”, Global Political Trends Center – GPOT, Istanbul Kultur University, Turkey, 2011 (in print). 




Hits: 3161


Very Rev.
written by Chrysostomos, February 11, 2011 

If the numbers of Turkish Cypriots who have acquired RoC ID and passports, quoted by Dr. Leventis are correct – and I have no reason to doubt them, then the central question is “Has Türkiye made any reciprocal move showing appreciation towards the Greek Cypriots?”


written by Flora Alexandrou, February 20, 2011 

An article this of Dr. Leventis which captures – especially through the meaningful title – the current situation of our compatriots in the north.
It is worth reading – in particular by Greek-Cypriot readers, since I personally consider that a high percentage of the Greek–cypriot civil society (without excluding part of our politicians) turn a deaf ear to those callings who say the path of reunification is hard, but possible through a common struggle.