Pro-settlement: A matter of choice
The “new Turkey” would not understand, because it has long been aspiring to achieve what is a nightmare for most Turkish Cypriots. The “old Turkey” was fully aware of such sensitivities, but reluctant to recognize and respect them because “the interests of Turkey should always come first.” Unfortunately, even for most of the “old Turkish Cypriots” who shared very strong bonds of gratitude towards the “Motherland,” defending Turkey’s interests always came before defending Turkish Cypriot interests.
Greek Cypriots make almost identical claims when it comes to sheer propaganda but when asked to develop some empathy they just cannot understand the Turkish Cypriot psychology. Indeed, Turkish Cypriots are like that poor young Anatolian girl not only ruthlessly raped by an army of men assumed to have been there to “protect” her, but the ordeal she was subjected to was kept secret to save the honor of the neighborhood.
Talking to me in private, a former Turkish ambassador to northern Cyprus had confessed that throughout his tenure he felt like a British governor general at an island colony. Apart from the protests staged frequently by a handful of far-left Turkish Cypriots in front of the Turkish embassy, Turkish Cypriots took to streets en masse twice in recent years to condemn the bossy and indeed dictatorial attitudes of the Turkish government and the arrogant language used by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against Turkish Cypriots. Still, the last thirty years or so of the British colonial rule on Cyprus was not that comfortable for the British governors.
When the European Court or such international bodies consider northern Cyprus government as an affiliate of Turkey – I must say they are polite enough and avoid saying north Cyprus has become a colony of Turkey – Turkish and Turkish Cypriot governments appear to have been irritated. Yet, how can a government not be subservient to the government of another country that might be providing at least a quarter of its budget and almost the entire investment budget? Can it, for example, continue flying its national carrier if and when its “sponsor” says, “Let the enterprises that lose money go bankrupt, such services can be handled by MY private sector!” Example? Turkish Cypriot Airlines became history. Its two slots at Heathrow were handed over to a Turkish company. Another Turkish private company is flourishing with around 30 weekly flights between Turkish Cypriot Ercan Airport (also privatized and handed over to a Turkish company nourished lately with state tenders) and Turkish cities.
It may sound like a joke to Greek Cypriots and Cyprus watchers when - leftist or conservative, irrespective - in all spectrums of Turkish Cypriot politics, despite differences and nuances, there is a very strong urge for a settlement on the island. Why is that? What is the difference between, let’s say, the 1970s and now, when an overwhelming majority of Turkish Cypriots have become so pro-settlement? Think of a people whose partners are dreaming of making them a privileged minority; a protecting “Motherland” that has started to believe it is its right to blow the fiddle since it paid for it; and an international community applying all sorts of discriminative policies against Turkish Cypriots for this or that reason. Should these people lie down and enjoy being with either Turkey, the Greek Cypriots, or who? Is it not wiser to be with the Greek Cypriots than becoming a lentil in the big Turkish soup?
Can Turkish Cypriots have any option other than being pro-settlement?