Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Presidential Election is over – what next for Northern Cyprus as an independent entity?

Mustafa Akıncı, the 4th President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

The recent election of Mustafa Akıncı as the 4th President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, having secured 60% of the votes in the electoral re-run, perhaps poses more questions than it answers in respect of the future for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as an independent political entity albeit one that is (unfairly) not internationally recognised. President Akıncı, whilst described as a ‘moderate’ is nevertheless left-leaning politically and this has questionable merit – at best – for a variety of reasons. 

For example, former President Mehmet Ali Talat is a left-winger and pro-settlement too but even he failed to appease his Greek Cypriot counter-part Christofias in relation to the Cyprus Question. We are already hearing of ‘confidence building measures’ designed to give tit bits to the Greeks and once again the Varosha (Maraş ) hand-over is being mooted albeit that much of this is Turkish Cypriot, indeed Efkav land.

Across the water in mainland Turkey, the election of President Akıncı does not seem to have gone down stunningly well in Ankara with Turkish President Erdogan becoming immediately somewhat vocal in light of recent events, where the ongoing relationship between Turkey and Northern Cyprus is becoming somewhat questioned. Main Turkish opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also weighed into the debate stating that “It’s not appropriate to present Turkish Cyprus as a state which is under the command and tutelage of Turkey,” just because Ankara has given the TRNC support [over the ensuing years post 1974.]

When asked if the CHP considers the TRNC as a “babyland,” Kılıçdaroğlu said the TRNC was an independent state. “Turkey could aid and give support to many countries, but using that support as if it were a ‘right of empery’ and using such pitiless language does not suit the Turkey of the 21st century,” he is quoted as saying. He also went on to observe that “Turkish Cyprus has a different flag, parliament and judiciary. Their democracy and consciousness of democracy is far more developed than ours. They are more sensitive to corruption.

We have to respect the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and its institutions.” It is perhaps a pity that these otherwise more than reasonable observations are not reflected in south Nicosia nor indeed in Athens, let alone Brussels, Strasburg or Washington although in the latter case at least Secretary Kerry acknowledged the election of President Akıncı by way of congratulation and this in itself is perhaps a sign of a degree of much-needed ‘recognition’ of the TRNC. For his part, Akıncı, reiterated his position that the status of the relationship between Turkey and Turkish Cyprus should change. “It should be a relationship of brothers/sisters, not a relationship of a motherland and a ‘babyland,’

That the Greek Cypriots have welcomed the election of a moderate Turkish Cypriot leader in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on April 27, saying they anticipated a swift resumption of stalled peace talks, has to be a matter of concern for those of us observers who fear that any settlement will give overall control of the island to the ‘dark-sider’s’, the natural historic enemy of Turkish Cypriots. This columnist is however, assured that whilst pro-settlement, President Akıncı is not likely to be a push-over either so it is much to be hoped that an equitable and bankable deal will perhaps be brokered after all, but even then any such agreement will have to be rubber-stamped by Ankara and in the latter case, a deal which calls for the removal of the TSK is unlikely to be well-received, less still acted upon. 

However, with the Russians taking an ever increasingly powerful grip on the south of the island, Turkey may believe that their own security is best served by leaving a strong military contingent on the island and in this respect, they would probably be right.

Eminent Turkish Cypriot journalist Yusuf Kanli concluded a recent article thus recently: “With Akıncı, the demand for change has won in northern Cyprus, but as Birikim Özgür, a leading Turkish Cypriot left-wing politician has said, “To achieve change, changing the tenant of the presidential mansion is not enough.” What will happen to relations with Ankara? Will Akıncı be able to conduct a policy separate from Ankara in the Cyprus talk’s process? Can he indeed bypass Ankara and without coordinating with the Turkish Foreign Ministry Cyprus Desk, offer anything tangible to Greek Cypriots?” ”This will be a very difficult road to walk for Akıncı.”

Indeed so…


Chris Green

Beşparmak Media Services