TRNC flights from domestic terminals

TRNC flights from domestic terminals

What does the intention to start flights from Turkey to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) from domestic terminals mean? The pro-Greek segments of the leftist opposition in the TRNC immediately decried the development as a step toward Turkey’s annexation of northern Cyprus. Could such a move that might all together change not only the Cyprus game plan but also the unending Turkey-European Union love story really be in the pipeline?

Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı has always been trying to show empathy for the Greek Cypriot people, remain committed to a settlement and avoid uttering even a single negative word that might be taken as a complaint about the cumbersome talks. This week, Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades put a set of territorial demands back on the negotiations table even though they had been flatly rejected by former President Derviş Eroğlu when they were first proposed. Handing over most parts of the Karpassia peninsula, the entire Güzelyurt (Morphou) region, pulling back considerably in the central plain and thus agreeing to reduce the Turkish Cypriot territory from the current 34 percent to below 20 percent cannot be negotiable.
Insisting on Turkish Cypriots handing over an area in which one could resettle 100,000 Greek Cypriots and urging Akıncı to accept the resettlement in the north of more than 60,000 Greek Cypriots (corresponding to 20 percent of the population of the Turkish region) cannot be an earnest demand from someone wishing to have a Cyprus deal.

Furthermore, Anastasiades has been adamantly stressing that with a settlement, all Turkish troops would leave the island and that Turkey’s guarantee for Turkish Cypriot security would be terminated. Of course, he was right in his complaint that no sovereign state could agree to limit its sovereignty by accepting foreign troops on its territory and a foreign guarantee for its independence. Yet, was it not the political forefathers of Anastasiades (his Democratic Rally Party is considered to be the political continuation of the EOKA gang) who attacked with the intention of totally annihilating the Turkish Cypriots, kicked the Turkish Cypriots out of the partnership state and left the island without a recognized government since 1964?

“Empathy president” Akıncı appears unable to tell all this to Anastasiades. The man must have forgotten who he was elected president of and whose interests he has been entitled to defend. Otherwise, no one would be able to make a public statement after last week’s meeting that there were very promising advances at the talks. What advances? Akıncı has not accepted any such demands from Anastasiades – at least he managed to do that – but remained silent other than murmuring that his people cannot go that far.

Akıncı has not included the center-right coalition in the Cyprus talks at all. Though even the deputy undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry was in the negotiating team when there was a center-left coalition in office, the leftist president has been shunning the government. Can he deliver a settlement alone? Is he not negotiating on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot parliament where the current coalition has a majority? Even if he can come up with a “Eureka, I reached a settlement” cry, could he offer it to a referendum without the consent of the government?

There is frustration in the Turkish Cypriot government; there is frustration in the Ankara government. The frustration of the two governments with both the pace and content of the Cyprus talks as well as the way the talks have been conducted by Akıncı and his team have started to force Ankara to think about the so-called Plan B once again.

A visit to Ankara by Prime Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün – who was accompanied by a very strong team including Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu – allowed top Turkish political leaders to express their conviction that “things cannot go on like this.”

The decision of the two prime ministers to instruct the transportation ministers to work out ways of shifting TRNC flights from Turkey from international terminals to domestic ones should not be taken as a sign that Turkey will annex northern Cyprus tomorrow. But, it indeed was a warning to the Greek Cypriot side of the special place Turkish Cypriots have for Turkey.

The frustration in Ankara is particularly directed toward the persistent efforts of the Greek Cypriot side to keep Turkish Cypriots out in the cold in the expectation that sooner or later, they will agree to a resolution on Greek Cypriot terms. Though Turkish Cypriots were the party to accept the 2004 U.N. plan for a resolution, it was the Greek Cypriot side of the island that was admitted into the EU as the “government of the entire island.” The Turkish Cypriot section was not only left out, the pledges made to Turkish Cypriots that any “yes” vote to the U.N. plan would end their international isolation and allow for the commencement of direct trade to the north all proved to be empty pledges. 

Now, Ankara has started warning the EU, Greek Cypriots and the Americans that the end of 2016 will be the last date for a federal Cyprus push. If by that date Greek Cypriots insist on dragging their feet with non-starter demands, aloof expectations or suggestions that would render Turkish Cypriots a second class people in their homeland, direct flights, direct trade and the recognition of the TRNC will be high on Turkey’s agenda…