Turkish Cypriots should be proud of their history
We know why, but we shouldn’t pretend we don’t. Why are the Turkish Cypriot people, who waged a heroic struggle of existence to live with dignity and not give up their rights despite all the deficiencies and impossibilities only a few generations ago, torn apart from their own recent history?
Yes, “torn apart from their own history” is indeed a very ambitious description. In my childhood, in my early youth, even though we were not part of the struggle due to age limitations or had very limited involvement, watching or hearing about the heroic resistance of our fathers, uncles, mothers, aunts, or grannies made us very proud of ourselves of having such relatives and being members of such a community.
Unfortunately, in the name of “not raising a hostile generation,” a political mentality that put empathy with the Greek Cypriot people and administration ahead of the Turkish Cypriot people, with the promise of “mutually” removing hostile expressions from the history books, erased this epic struggle from the history books. That government confined the Turkish Cypriot resistance history to several pages in general Turkish history books. Although the Greek side promised as well, it did not remove incidences of Turkish hostility from their history textbooks, refusing to undertake a similar approach. Despite this, this absurd situation has been going on for decades. New generations have been raised with no awareness of the heroic struggle for existence, the glorious resistance, which took place a few generations ago. To make matters worse, as a result of various brainwashing operations, an important youth sector not only has no idea about the Turkish Cypriots’ struggle for existence and appreciation for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), the golden result of that struggle, but rather has been sympathetic to the Greek Cypriot propaganda. It’s a shame.
Just as the Turkish National Liberation War was crowned with the establishment of the independent Republic of Turkey, the Turkish Cypriot resistance struggle was crowned with the declaration of the TRNC in 1983. Is it possible to understand the meaning and importance of the TRNC without knowing how the 1983 declaration of independence was achieved? The late President Rauf Denktas always said, “Our greatest work is our state; younger generations will protect it. May God does not leave my people stateless.” The deathbed phrase “Tell them [Greek politicians] that this is an independent Republic” is Denktas’ eternal will.
Unfortunately, we cannot say that this great struggle is known sufficiently in Turkey. Of course, all economic and political support programs for the TRNC are very important and vital. However, the lack of public diplomacy and the insensitivity to the Turkish Cypriot history are also the most important problems that need to be eliminated. It should be a patriotic duty to present to both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot people what happened on the island not so long ago with a proper and disciplined approach.
In addition, more than 100,000 students study every year at 22 universities in the TRNC. Out of these students, 50 percent are mainland Turkish citizens, 40 percent are third-country citizens and 10 percent are TRNC citizens. Unfortunately, this situation, which offers very important opportunities in the promotion of TRNC to both Anatolian Turks and the world, cannot be adequately utilized. According to the TRNC Ministry of National Education and Culture, 360,000 people have graduated from TRNC universities and returned to their home countries since 2000, including 250,000 Turkish citizens and 110,000 third-country citizens.
Some of the graduates in question, such as Turkish Trade Minister Mehmet Muş, who recently visited the TRNC, may have done or are still doing important public duties in their own countries. Unfortunately, this important opportunity is not being used enough and these friends leave TRNC universities unaware of the epic Turkish Cypriot existence war but with various shameful perceptions such as gambling, prostitution and drugs. Despite the executive provision of the National Education Law, nearly half a million people who have been doing bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the TRNC have not been told at all about the Turkish Cypriots’ existence struggle.
What needs to be done? Is it not clear? Let’s sufficiently teach the Turkish Cypriots about their history and convert Turkish and third nation students at TRNC universities into the Turkish Cypriot ambassadors to their communities by ordaining them sufficiently with the Turkish Cypriots’ heroic struggle for existence.