The lesser of two evils

The lesser of two evils

Reading in this column my outcry about Turkey behaving as if it recognizes the Turkish Cypriot state but in effect acting more and more as if it considers northern Cyprus to be its “undeclared colony,” some people might think I am suggesting a surrender to the Greek Cypriots. Wrong…

Despite all the hardships and the macho colonialist-style approaches of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his political clan to the Cyprus problem, an overwhelming majority of Turkish Cypriots would rather opt to become an “82nd Turkish province” rather than being patched up as a minority in a Greek Cypriot-held Cyprus Republic.

Yes, my friend Robert Ellis was right in his comment that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has long held that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a “subordinate local administration” of Turkey. The ECHR ruling that primarily stopped potatoes and other agricultural products being exported from northern Cyprus to European countries, or the one that compelled Turkey to pay millions of euros in compensation to Greek Cypriots who lost their properties in the north because of Turkish intervention, has been one of the anomalies holding hostage to a Cyprus settlement.

I would not be pro-settlement if I had a seat in the government, my government had U.N. recognition, membership of the EU, and international court rulings asserting my statehood and condemning my adversary as a minority that should not expect anything more than minority rights. Why would Greek Cypriots want a settlement on Cyprus and share the government with Turkish Cypriots? Greek Cypriots have all the reasons to be adamant, aggressive and intransigent, and they have been perfectly obstructing a settlement since the start of talks in 1967. That is why they rejected a deal back in 1973 (which simply provided Turkish Cypriots with local autonomy), and that is why they again rejected deals in 1987, 1993, and 2004.

Over the past decades I have kept on complaining that the attitude of the international community to leave the Turkish Cypriots to the mercy of the Greek Cypriots was indeed forcing Turkish Cypriots to proceed with further integration with Turkey, and that they risk eventually becoming a lentil in the big Turkish soup. To be frank, Turkey had never been so vigorous and assertive in its neo-colonialist policies on Cyprus until the past few years. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), particularly in the past year, has converted the Turkish embassy into an office of governor general, undermining local administrators and working to create a new, conservative and religious northern Cyprus.

Turkish Cyprus becoming a declared or undeclared colony of Ankara is not in the best interests of the Turkish Cypriots, and it is definitely not in the interests of Greek Cypriots either. They have to wake up and see the looming danger that will not only devastate the cultural presence of Turkish Cypriots in the north.

If Turkish Cypriots are kept isolated, and continue to be forced to make a choice between patching up to the Greek Cypriot state or becoming the 82nd province of Turkey, they would overwhelmingly opt for the lesser of two evils and ask to be with Turkey.