Trusting the future of Turkish Cyprus
SEFER LEVENTI have been to Northern Cyprus many times before. I would usually go from the airport to the hotel, then from the hotel to a little bit of Nicosia, then to the airport again. They were two- or three-day trips, which some of them were for business and some for leisure purposes. It seems that I have missed so much.
I obviously have skipped the taste of coffee at the Lefkoşa Büyük Han, the magnificence of the Selimiye Mosque, the history of St. Hilarion, Bedesten and Suriçi, especially the Salamis ruins that defy time, the beauty of the Kyrenia port, the sadness of Varosha and the sweets at Petek Pastry Shop.
I will never forgive myself. While I went to the farthest corners of the world, researched and knew them of by heart, why was I so unjust to Northern Cyprus?
Northern Cyprus does not mean five-star hotels, casinos, the green line, talks and issues. Northern Cyprus is history, natural heritage and culture. I don’t think I am exaggerating. This is exactly what it is.
Well, why is that so? When looking from Turkey, why does Northern Cyprus look different than what it is?
Why doesn’t it attract the attention it deserves? I think it is because of politics. Northern Cyprus is so immersed in politics that it neglects marketing its history and culture. I know there will be those who would say what the point in marketing is when the embargoes and isolation continue.
I don’t have such huge dreams on this matter. We should start by explaining Northern Cyprus, its history and cultural aspects to Turkey properly. It lies on all of our shoulders. The second target could be Azerbaijan. I don’t know what will come out of the new talks; I don’t know whether a permanent solution would be found for the island. However, in a case where new talks are taken to a referendum and as it happened in the Annan Plan, if the Greek side rejects it, then Northern Cyprus should have some gains. Exactly for this reason, I am mentioning Azerbaijan. This country has not yet officially recognized Northern Cyrus. I don’t know if you would remember.
In 2004, after the referendum held in Cyprus for the Annan Plan, there was a leap in relations between Azerbaijan and Northern Cyprus. Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev had said that in the referendum, which aimed at ending the separation on the island, if the Turkish side approved and the Greek side rejected, then Azerbaijan may recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
In 2005, Azerbaijan declared it would recognize TRNC passports and sent official representatives to Northern Cyprus’ July 20 Peace and Freedom holiday. On July 27, an Azerbaijani plane carrying 100 businesspeople landed in Northern Cyprus from Baku, which was the first time a country other than Turkey had flown directly to Northern Cyprus.
Later, protests from the Greek side had postponed flights that were scheduled to be regular. Planes do not and cannot go to Northern Cyprus before touching Turkish soil.
Now is the correct time, I believe. Shouldn’t there be a sanction in the case that one side rejects and the other accepts? For Azerbaijan to recognize Northern Cyprus, shouldn’t policies be developed in advance to open the way for this and other countries?
Emrullah Turanlı, the owner of Taş Yapı, the company building the new airport with millions of Turkish Liras of investments, has big dreams for Northern Cyprus. I believe we all got to know Turanlı, who personally hosted us in Northern Cyprus.
I am sure he wouldn’t have attempted to make such an investment if he didn’t believe in the future of Northern Cyprus. I don’t know how many days are left before we see the airport with a yearly capacity of 5 million passengers to grow even bigger. I know only one thing: Northern Cyprus deserves much but much more.