Cyprus Opinions
Go Easy on the Tatar 12

Brexit has handed the TRNC and the entire disputed island a chance to break the deadlock

During a recent trip to the UK, the Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and National Unity Party (UBP) leader, Ersin Tatar (almost like the sauce), met with Turkish Cypriot non-governmental organisations in the UK, held a talk at Cambridge University’s Jesus College, and later met with senior Tory MPs including former leader Iain Duncan Smith and Sir David Amess.

In his statement to the Sunday Express,(1) he said he believes that Brexit has handed his country and the entire disputed island a chance to break the deadlock, highlighting that Britain had until now been unable to make a decisive intervention because Greece and the GCASC are EU members, and could wield a veto in retaliation to any move the UK makes.

Tatar also said that 45 years of trying to bring the two sides together in a federal solution had failed, citing that: “a forced marriage will not succeed… We are different. We speak Turkish, they speak Greek… The new generation does not know each other at all. A child who was 10 in 1974 is now 55, he has grandchildren. We are separated…. Now that the UK is out of the EU it can use some initiatives to make the Turkish Cypriots more comfortable… If we have direct flights, especially from the UK, we will enjoy tourism and growth… More than 300,000 Turkish Cypriots are living in Britain. We have a lot of English people who would like to fly in and out of Cyprus… If we have direct flights it will benefit our economy because it will increase our competitiveness.”

He urged the UK to get behind a two state solution for the divided Eastern Mediterranean island, and to establish direct flights to and from the TRNC, which would boost its economy with tourism and business as well as support the more than 20,000 British expats living there.

No people on this earth have been condemned as harshly as the Turkish Cypriots

But, if anything else can be taken away from these articles it is that Tatar also purportedly said something to the effect that: “… he would be willing to reduce North Cyprus’ land on the island from 36 percent (to) 30 percent…”

Now, this may or may not be true, and even if it is/isn’t, we could try to understand the nature of the political situation Tatar must be in to have to accept such a thing, although, we shouldn’t automatically think it would be Tatar’s fault.

Just like the Cyprus Problem itself, the Turkish Cypriots didn’t create it, but they’ve recognised it, they’ve tried their best to deal with it in the best way possible, they’ve tried to always take a “both sides matter” approach, but that Tatar would also need to embrace the TRNC’s current problems and deal with the cards the Turkish Cypriots have been unfairly and unjustly dealt, is an unfortunately necessary leadership quality.

But we still have to ask away from Tatar for a moment and ask ourselves the following questions:

Why must the Turkish Cypriots concede any of their sovereign territory to the Greek Cypriots?

Will the Greek Cypriots concede any of their sovereign territory to the Turkish Cypriots?

The Greek Cypriots already changed land ownership and did as they pleased with the majority of Turkish Cypriot land and homes in the south, and without providing or allowing for there ever to be any remedy/rent/compensation etc.

In stark contrast the Turkish Cypriots never actually changed land ownership; only actual use was changed… the Greek Cypriots still have the right to move and live freely in the TRNC as they please… AND there is the IPC which deals with Greek Cypriot land/property ownership issues…

Is there something that we don’t know?

What are we missing here?

Weren’t the Turkish Cypriots victims of an attempted genocide and ethnic cleansing campaign which the Greek Cypriots still haven’t abandoned pursuing to this day?

Weren’t the overwhelming majority of victims on Cyprus always – and still – the Turkish Cypriots?

Didn’t the overwhelming majority of assets and heritage damaged, looted, occupied, or destroyed on Cyprus belong to the Turkish Cypriots?

No people on this earth have been condemned by their neighbours and the rest of International Society as harshly as the Turkish Cypriots have…

This is a Crime Against Humanity!

Just to do a little recap of how this mess entire mess started on Cyprus:

From as early as 1878, the Turkish Cypriots were forced to watch helplessly as their then-new neighbours relentlessly invaded their way to their native homeland, displaced them from their lands and homes, forced demographic changes on their island, waged an island-wide ethnic cleansing campaign against them, and it was characterised by wanton and senseless hatred, racism, ethnic/religious agitation, aggression, violence, murder, and destruction…

They lobbied their plight to the world, they protested, they took to the streets in London, for every high-level Greek-British exchange discussing the possibility of Enosis, the vehemence of the Turkish Cypriot response reminded them who Cyprus belonged to, but we all ignored them…

When rapprochement efforts were made in the form of suggesting to their new neighbours that they stop their armed separatist terrorist campaign against them and the British, and instead join them to cooperate together peacefully in a united Republic of Cyprus, their new neighbours only reluctantly accepted and almost immediately set out to secretly plot the sudden, violent and illegal severance of power-sharing with the Turks before the new state even came to be…

As soon as that state was formed the Greek Cypriots immediately set out to create the conditions for that coup with a Constitutional Crisis, anti-Turkish agitation, intercommunal tensions, the revival of a state-sponsored clandestine terrorist organisation, and pursuant to a written plan, the Akritas Plan, which strategised legalising and legitimising the violent displacement and extermination of the Turkish Cypriots, to which they were then violently subjected from the December of 1963 to August 1974…

After going through all those years of pain, suffering and turmoil, living through 11 years of horror in squalid conditions in WWII style grottos encompassing just 3% of the island, being blockaded, denied free movement, denied access to basic medical equipment, even daily necessities including clean drinking water and even milk for young babies, forced to economically stagnate, subjected to kidnappings and cold-blooded murders if they ever ventured out of their enclaves, being systematically wiped-out/massacred in isolated towns and villages, slowly being squeezed out of relevance and existence…

This time foreign journalists joined the fray to document their plight to the world, to condemn the atrocious way they were treated by the Greeks, but still we ignored them…

And then to be punished for surviving and refusing to die in spite of the unjust danger and hardship they were forced to suffer…

To be punished for surviving on foreign aid and seeking shelter under the security umbrella of Turkey…

To be punished for welcoming the support of their legally-bound Guarantor Turkey…

To be punished for defending and exercising their own right to self-determination on their own native homeland…

To be punished for striving for peace, freedom, liberty and justice…

This is cruelty to human beings!

This is a crime against humanity!

It shouldn’t be the Turkish Cypriots to make concessions

So why is it that we keep hearing the Turkish Cypriot leadership being degraded to talk about accepting one-sided no-gain territorial concessions as part of the already one-sided negotiations with the Greek Cypriots?

The Greek Cypriots have rights to their homes in the TRNC, everybody recognised that, but they have no right to do what they did/still do to the Turkish Cypriots, and get away with it, and be rewarded… and they have no right to force the Turkish Cypriots to concede their rights, their freedom, their identity, their sovereignty!

Surely, it shouldn’t be the overwhelming majority of victims – the Turkish Cypriots – to make concessions.

But no. The world has turned a blind eye to the Turkish Cypriots. They don’t exist. Turkish lives don’t matter. The Greek Cypriots keep receiving confirmation after confirmation that what they are doing is still okay. Propaganda has won the day, and the arrogant and oppressive aggressor has shamelessly convinced the world that it is the victim, while the rest of the world has shamelessly acquiesced, and the downtrodden victim has been painted as the aggressor.

To put this into a slightly different context, let’s give ourselves a tool:

First, let’s just concede to the facts here:

  • the Greeks invaded Cyprus… the Turks on Cyprus were attacked, they were abused, they were displaced, they were massacred… from 1878 right the way up to 1974… they were the victims of strong anti-Turkish sentiment-turn-agitation-turn-aggression-turn-violence-turn-attempted genocide… nobody cared beyond just voicing their concerns… nobody went to help them… nobody forced the perpetrators to stop… the perpetrators were instead rewarded with international recognition as the state they had eventually hijacked… international laws were passed supporting the perpetrators and condemning the victims…

So, we already know that some pretty bad things have happened, somebody tried to displace/exterminate an entire race, without any hesitation, without any resistance, without any duress… the world then rewarded them with a state, and condemned the victims so much so that they are still being asked to make concessions and reparations to the very people who invaded their native homeland and tried to displace/exterminate them… or, in slightly more brevity:

  • When the Greeks came to Cyprus, it was not with open arms but with hatred, racism and war. They invaded the lands of the Turks, attacked, displaced and killed their men, women, elderly and children with impunity, then had the arrogance to call them the “aggressors” and “barbarians”…

The barbaric state is by no means a phenomenon unique to any one country or region,(3) and the modern Greeks are certainly not immune to such terms being applied to them,(4) especially when it comes to the savagely cruel and exceedingly brutal way in which they tried to hijack Cyprus, hitherto a Turkish island, and turn it into a Greek island

“The TRNC can re-establish economic relations with the UK now”

Tatar has really got his work cut out for him, but this is a reality that any Turkish Cypriot leader must accept.

The question is: who has the correct leadership qualities and the willingness to accept the TRNC’s qualities good and bad, to make the most out of the current situation and really fight for ALL Turkish Cypriot peoples’ interests not just in Cyprus but all over the world, and start to fix the TRNC’s problems from the inside out.

Vusal Tekin Quluzade, a graduate student in International Affairs and Global Governance rightly said: “Since the UK was part of the EU, the TRNC was not allowed to export agricultural products to the UK. The TRNC can re-establish economic relations with the UK now.”

And the UK should indeed take advantage of Brexit. It should make a success out of Brexit. It should make a mutual success out of relations with the Turkish Cypriots. It should reap all the economic, social, and strategic benefits it can with the Turkish Cypriots. It should help the Turkish Cypriot leadership make the most pragmatic decisions for the mutual benefit of both countries’ peoples.

Win-Win.

Surely this is an ideal to be earnestly, devoutly and fervently cherished and fought for.

And if anybody has even the slightest doubt about their own sense of moral integrity, or pragmatism, they must make it their obligation to themselves and to the entirety of international society that they:

1) clarify and condemn the continued illegal and illegitimate occupation of the ROC by the Greeks and Greek Cypriots circa 1963, as well as everything that represents;

2) recognise the more-than-century old struggle of the Turkish Cypriots, as well as the attempted genocide and ethnic cleansing to which they were subjected by the Greeks and Greek Cypriots, particularly through the years 1963-1974;

3) force the Greek Cypriots to allow the Turkish Cypriots back to their rightful seats in government;

4) force the Greek Cypriots to establish a bicommunal committee chaired by an unbiased third-party member that is tasked with legally handling Turkish Cypriot property and land claims in the South;

5) force the Greek Cypriots to implement Constitutional, Institutional and Societal amendments in order to safeguard the Turkish Cypriots’ irrevocable rights to the entirety of Cyprus; 

6) find all those responsible for war crimes on Cyprus and try them in the Hague

Bibliography

(1) David Maddox. Brexit can end Cyprus stand-off between north and south, Prime Minister says. 24 February 2020. Also See: TATAR’DAN RUMLARA % 6 TOPRAK VERME ÖNERİSİ. Detay Kıbrıs. 24 February 2020; Tatar wants UK to support two-state solution in Cyprus. TRNC PIO. 25 February 2020.

(2) Christos Panayiotides. Time to change course without delay. Cyprus Mail. 23 February 2020.

(3) The barbaric state is by no means a unique or isolated phenomenon; it is often applied to states such as Syria, it can also be found in Iraq and Libya and in diluted form in Egypt and other Arab states. The Hama massacre in 1982, the Anfal genocide conducted by Saddam Hussein’s troops and the poison gas attack in Halabja in 1988 can all be said to be examples of state-led barbarism. Most European nations in their history and even the U.S. are widely found to be barbaric states. Various Eastern Asian nations have also been accused of this to varying extents. The concept of “barbarism” in Greek identity too, particularly, state-led barbarism in Anatolia, Bosnia/Srebrenica and Cyprus, has certainly not been acknowledged adequately.

(4) The terms “barbarian”, “barbaric”, “barbarism” can be examined as follows: in ancient Greek culture and customs, the word “barbaros” meant “foreigner”, “one from a different state”, but more specifically: “one who speaks a different language”… in Roman/Latin culture and customs, the word “barbarus” meant “foreigner” or “savage”, and the word “barbaria” meant “foreign country”… in old French, late middle English, and modern English respectively, the words “barbarique”, “barbaric” and “barbarian” mean “savagely cruel; exceedingly brutal”, “primitive; unsophisticated; uncivilised; uncultured”, and are also often used to describe one who invades another’s home and brings such unwelcome characteristics as hatred, racism, turmoil, upheaval, war, displacement, and death…

Disclaimer: the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of the author, Cyprium News, or any other organisation, committee, group or individual.

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