Turkish Cypriot leader points to rise of far right in southern Cyprus
Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar said May 31 there was a significant increase in votes for the far-right ultra-nationalist National Popular Front (ELAM) in the latest legislative elections in the Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus (GASC).
The leader of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was speaking to Anadolu Agency on the results of the polls held Sunday.
“Our discourse that there cannot be a federalism-based solution to the Cyprus problem has been confirmed,” he said.
ELAM and its supporters advocate a unitary Cyprus in which Cypriot Turks would not even have minority rights, he said, noting the party draws most of its support from young people in southern Cyprus.
Tatar underlined that the reasons behind ELAM’s popularity among young people are the promotion of extreme Greek nationalism and the ideals of EOKA, the terrorist organization that was responsible for attacks on Cypriot Turks between 1957-1974.
“Children and youth of Greek Cypriots are indoctrinated with Greek nationalism that claims Cyprus is a Greek island and it eventually should be united with Greece. As such, I recognize our new vision of a two-state solution as a realistic solution that fits into the realities of Cyprus,” he maintained.
Tatar said the U.N. and other involved parties in the 5+1 Cyprus talks in Geneva should recognize that a federal solution for the island is not feasible anymore, as shown by the election results in the GASC.
“We will not accept an agreement that is based on federalism. We will be keen in defending a two-state solution that is supported by Turkey,” he added.
The ultra-nationalist ELAM party and the centrist DIPA made significant gains in legislative elections held Sunday.
With all the votes counted, the center-right DISY emerged in first place with 27.77% of the vote, followed by the communist-rooted AKEL party.
However, the frontrunners respectively lost 2.9% and 3.3% of their support compared to the previous election, while ELAM won 6.78%, nearly double its share in 2016, and the centrist DIPA gained 6.1%.
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long struggle between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
The island has been divided since 1964 when ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece’s annexation led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power. The TRNC was founded in 1983.
The Greek Cypriot administration, backed by Greece, became a member of the European Union in 2004, although most Greek Cypriots rejected a U.N. settlement plan in a referendum that year which had envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the EU.