The Cyprus issue is an internal matter of Turkey. Turkey has always seen the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as another city of Anatolia, as an inseparable part of the country. An entire generation grew up hearing about the Cyprus issue, fought for Cyprus, fell as martyrs in Cyprus, held rallies in Istanbul for it and raised voice for it wherever they could. Cyprus is probably the only issue on which all the previous Turkish governments have agreed. No one has ever considered compromising on the Cyprus issue and no one would even think of such a possibility.
Since it is a matter of such a national importance, the words of the new President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus about Turkey caused outrage among the Turkish people. Mustafa Akıncı said that the relationship with Turkey shouldn’t be one of a mother and child, but rather like a relationship between siblings. He wants to act as independently as possible from Turkey and hopes that in this way, he will be able to make peace with Greek Cyprus. Although the harshest reply came from President Erdogan, other Turkish political leaders were also outraged.
At this point, it is important to look at the issue from two perspectives: From Turkey’s point of view, and Northern Cyprus’ point of view.
From Turkey’s point of view; Cyprus has been a national matter, for which many Turkish people laid down their lives. Giving up on it has always been considered defeat and Turkey has never hesitated to stand up for and defend the rights of the Turkish Cypriots and has always offered her unconditional financial and moral support. Although the EU has used the Cyprus issue as leverage against it for the past 50 years, Turkey never bowed down. For us Turks, Cyprus is a part of Turkey. Therefore, the independence of the Turkish people there is a crucial matter that concerns all the citizens of Turkey. For this reason, Turkey was incensed at the words and attitude of Akıncı. Devlet Bahçeli, the opposition party leader, in Turkey also weighed in on the matter with the following important remarks: “For those who don’t care about the difficulties that were embraced for existence, that are unaware of the prices paid, the future is pitch dark.” Being conscious of this price doesn’t amount to being a supporter of the status quo, it means being loyal.
From Northern Cyprus’s point of view, it is essential to see the good intentions behind some of the requests. Akıncı is the president of a country. He has been elected as a result of his promises to fulfill the requests of his people in an independent manner. He made concrete promises such as reopening Maras under UN supervision, which has been closed since 1974 and using the port of Magusa and Ercan airport for direct commercial and non-commercial flights and he has shown enthusiasm in starting trade with the Greek side, which is currently suffering from a financial crisis. If there are two states on one island, it is the most natural thing for them to share their resources and have trade relations. The Greek side welcomed this approach with the following words of President Nikos Anastasiades, “Finally we are once again hopeful that our country can unite”.
It is understandable that the Cypriots do not want to support the status quo, as peace cannot be achieved with the policies that have been implemented thus far. However, there are two errors in that thinking: Rejecting the status quo doesn’t equal denying the guarantor status of Turkey. It is possible to develop new policies together with Turkey. The second mistake is forgetting that the Greek side has always impeded peace. Even the financial crisis in the Greek side of the island couldn’t convince the Greeks to make peace and ultimatums by the Church always kept the Greeks away from the Turks.
In the meantime, it has to be kept in mind that Turkey is a guarantor country in the negotiations regarding Cyprus, just like Greece is. This guarantor power was certified with the London and Zurich agreements, which were approved by UN and are the strongest treaties allowed by international laws. According to these agreements, a guarantor power is not something that can be changed on the spot anytime a country wishes. Therefore, the attempt of the new Greece administration to revoke their guarantor status, calling it a “an old era model” doesn’t look credible, and it most likely arises from their very real financial concerns. Greece may not want to spend any further money on Cyprus or send troops there, but officially they are still guarantors. Therefore, both Turkey and Greece will always be a part of the picture in the Cyprus issue.
Independence has always been one of the most important things for Turks during their thousands of years of history. And independence for the Turkish Cypriots, who have been under our rule for 307 years, is also a non-negotiable matter for us. Compromising on the bi-communal, two-part state model that Turkey has been suggesting since the beginning will mark the beginning of the formation of a state that will be ruled by Greeks; this is the biggest danger. Some people might recklessly defend the idea of accepting Greek rule instead of independence just to be able to benefit from some EU facilities. However, if that is the condition for “peace” on the island, Turkey will reject that with all its might using its “guarantor” power, as this is what has to be done. However, Turkey will continue to do everything possible to build a state recognized by the two communities on the island, just as it has been working to achieve so far. We believe that the new president will make very good steps toward peace and we support his personal decisions and wish him success. However, we also have to remind him that such steps are strong and intense steps and as he makes those steps, Turkey’s presence is vital in every way.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Arab News & Jefferson Corner: