Emphasis on two sovereign states
In North Cyprus, some groups protested while enthusiastic crowds applauded. It’s not like Nov. 15, 1983, of course, but this anniversary was also a turning point. I believe we’ll understand better in the future.
“Tell them, this is an independent republic,” were the last words of Rauf Denktaş, the founding president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), eight years ago. On the anniversary of the founding of the TRNC, we saw that both the new Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had decided to fulfill whatever required to bring to life the last will of the founding president and to work on a solution based on the existence of two sovereign states on the island. Although the construction of his eternal resting place has not been completed in the past eight years, I am sure that Turkish Cypriot eternal leader Denktaş sleeps more comfortably today.
Let alone the visit of Erdoğan and his partner in the government coalition, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, which was symbolically significant, the anniversary speeches were demonstrative of Turkey’s new vigilance on Cyprus, and the Turkish Cypriot determination to align perfectly with Ankara.
Tatar’s speech, which was filled with a historical approach and very important emphasis, seemed to herald how useful the last election was in restoring a leadership committed to the enhancement and defense of Turkish Cypriots’ partnership rights in sovereignty, territory and governance of the island. Mustafa Akinci’s era of “empathy with the Greek Cypriots” and the surrenderist approach of “let’s be good, let’s do whatever possible to avoid them saying anything against us” went away, replaced by a Turkish Cypriot leader who knew what he wanted. Thus, his speech heralded the start of the beginning of a new era for the protection and enhancement of Turkish Cypriot rights.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s speech included headline remarks in each paragraph. “Today there are two separate peoples, two separate states in Cyprus. A two-state solution must be negotiated on the basis of sovereign equality,” he stressed. That was a marked change from Turkey’s traditional demand of inclusion in other settlement ideas apart from the federation model. As Tatar noted to Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades at their first private meeting, the federation goal in the Cyprus talks is now history. In this respect, Erdoğan said: “Especially as a result of the negotiations in the last 50 years, we know this fact very well. It is not possible to re-establish the partnership with the Greeks, which broke down at gun power in Cyprus in 1963 and was completely eliminated by the coup of the Greek junta in 1974. It’s like the old saying, with yesterday’s sun, today’s underwear will not be dried.” Such firm commitment by the Turkish leader to a two-state solution – on which many top Turkish officials were so shy about until now – was really important.
Naturally, some friends may want to focus on Erdoğan’s promise to build a new presidential building in North Cyprus. Of course, that was important, too. In the opening of Varosha, it was very important to explain that the rights of the former owners of the property will be protected. Like a repeat of the five-way conference proposal, the statement that neither Turkey nor the Turkish Cypriot people would stand by on the issue of eastern Mediterranean hydrocarbon riches was very decisive.
The right to demonstrate
In democracies, protests, marches, and many other ways of expressing an opinion or to criticize those in power are just part and parcel of the constitutional right to demonstrate. As a matter of fact, the unnecessary ban of the Nicosia Prefecture did not work, even though organizers could not find as many excited supporters as they wanted because of failing to reach people, rain and whatever might be the reason but still many left-wing groups protested president Erdoğan’s visit, especially his “picnic” in the Varosha region. By the way, after I learned that Erdoğan was served the traditional “Şeftali” kebab in Varosha, I wished I could be there as well.
We are going through some pain in a row this year. I have lost so many friends to this pandemic. It was an incredible pain to learn this week that a very dear friend, former deputy Professor Dr. Mithat Melen, marched to eternity because of the pandemic. I wish his family and relatives patience. May god’s mercy be upon him.
Muharrem Özgüven, who honored me with his devoted friends for many decades, is in intensive care because of the pandemic. Another dear friend, successful industrialist Ali Han, is struggling for his life due to complications following a heart attack. God help them. I hope it’s possible to get good news from them soon.