The Sphere of PoliticsThe influence of Turkey
The political situation in the occupied area of Cyprus, which is not under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, is dominated by the presence of the Turkish occupation forces, the Turkish mainland settlers and the overwhelming influence of Ankara.
Despite the fact that in April 2005, Rauf Denktash, the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community since 1973, was finally replaced by Mehmet Ali Talat, the Turkish Government and the Turkish military continue to control the political situation in the occupied areas and dictate the policy of the Turkish Cypriot community on the Cyprus question.
The Turkish Government as well as the Turkish Cypriot leadership have been trying to present the image that their objective is the reunification of Cyprus and not the recognition of the illegal secessionist entity. However, numerous statements by Turks and Turkish Cypriots politicians have proved the opposite.
In particular, the Turkish Prime Minister has repeatedly reassured both the Turkish and the Turkish-Cypriot public opinion that Turkey will never abandon Cyprus for the sake of its EU membership and that the aim of the Turkish Government is to achieve international recognition for the so-called “TurkishRepublic of Northern Cyprus”. Moreover, the Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish army, Hilmi Ozkok in his latest New Year Message characterized Cyprus as one of the four foundations on which the security strategy of Turkey is based.
Curtailment of the freedom of the press
The aim of the occupation regime is to have absolute control over the Turkish Cypriot press and the mass media. Therefore, media and individual journalists who oppose the regime and support the reunification of Cyprus are abused and attacked in order to remain silent.
The aforementioned situation is reflected in the murder of the Turkish Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adali, on 6 July 1996.Adali, a political columnist with the leftist newspaper Yeni Duzen, was sharply critical of the colonization policy implemented by Turkey with the support of the Denktash regime and of the propping up of the illegal administration of the occupation army. In one case Adali accused the “Civil Defence” for the looting of Saint Barnabas monastery in the occupied part of the island. He was murdered outside his house after receiving a number of threats from the “Civil Defence”, due to an investigative report on the aforementioned antiquities said to involve a Turkish general. The assassination of Adali was never elucidated; however the main suspect is the Turkish Commander of Civil Defence, Galip Mendli.
The European Court of Human Rights having examined the application submitted by the wife of Kutlu Adali (case 38187/97, Adali v. Turkey) concluded that there had been a violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the lack of an effective investigation into the killing. Moreover, the Court found that the applicant had been denied an effective remedy in respect of the death of her husband (violation of Article 13) and thereby access to any other remedies at her disposal, including a claim for compensation.
The newspaper Avrupa (Europe) has, since its founding in 1997, been the main source of opposition against the Denktash regime and the occupation army, thereby facing their wrath. Avrupa’s journalists have been arrested and accused for espionage, its premises has been a target of bomb attacks, its workforce has been subjected to blackmail and intimidation in order to abandon it and the paper itself has repeatedly been taken to the so called “courts” under charges of libel and has consequently been forced to pay large amounts of money in compensation.
On December 15, 2001 the paper was forced to change its name, in order to avoid paying huge fines imposed by the “courts”. Since then, the newspaper has changed its name to Africa, a name specifically chosen (according to the paper) in order to denote that the law of the jungle prevails in the occupied part of Cyprus.
Moreover, Turkey’s lack of democracy and respect of the freedom of the press is evident in the recent investigation launched by the General Attorney’s Office in Turkey against Serhat Incirli, a Turkish Cypriot journalist who lives in London.
Turkey, based on an agreement with the “TRNC” for judicial cooperation, sued Incirli for “publicly insulting and humiliating the Republic of Turkey” through his articles in Afrika newspaper. This is the first time that Turkey attempts to sue a Turkish Cypriot journalists for insulting the Turkish nation, which proves that there has been absolutely no change in the policy of intimidation and threats by the Turkish Government against political opponents.
This development has been strongly criticized by the European Journalists Federation which described this action as an attack against the freedom of expression and asked the Turkish officials to terminate the investigation. In addition, the Press Labourers Union has condemned the said action, while the Cyprus Journalists Association has taken the initiative to inform European and international press organizations with regard to the Incirli case.
The growing distress, frustration and disappointment towards their leadership since the Turkish invasion have contributed to the popular uprising of the Turkish Cypriot community and the removal of the former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in 2005.
In particular, the poor economic situation, the feeling of marginalization of the Turkish Cypriots due to the growing number of settlers from Turkey, the continuing intransigence of Rauf Denktash and Turkey with regard to efforts for a solution to the Cyprus question and the fear of not being able to enjoy the benefits from the accession of Cyprus into the EU, have been the main reasons which motivated the Turkish Cypriots and led to the organization of huge mass demonstrations against the Denktash regime.
The state of the opposition
Opposition against the policies of Turkey and the Denktash regime grew. They were considered responsible for the prevailing corruption and economic crisis, lack of democracy and oppression of the free will of the Turkish Cypriots. Moreover, the continuous colonization policy and the separatist approach policy regarding the Cyprus question, threatened to deprive the Turkish Cypriots of the benefits of Cyprus’ accession to the EU. All the above led to the formation of a unified political platform under the symbolic name “This homeland is ours”.
The platform which was founded with the participation of political parties, labour unions, teacher’s unions, women’s organizations, cultural and environment foundations, peace movements and various chambers, had organized a number of mass demonstrations and other political activities. The highlight of the campaign was the collection in September 2000 of 17,980 signatures addressed to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, appended to a memo listing demands for peace, democracy and a federal solution to the Cyprus question.
In the occupied part of Cyprus the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community purporting to hold the title of the so-called ‘‘president of the TRNC’’, is currently held by Mehmed Ali Talat, former leader of the Republican Turkish Party. The so-called ‘‘coalition government’’ of the Republican Turkish Party and the newly-established Freedom and Reform Party is headed by Ferdi Sabit Soyer, current leader of the Republican Turkish Party.
Of the parties active in the political life in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, only one, the Republican Turkish Party (RTP) had been founded before the Turkish invasion of 1974. The impact of these political parties amongst Turkish Cypriots is influenced by the participation in the so-called “elections” of the Turkish mainland settlers, who in fact outnumber the Turkish Cypriots. As a rule, settlers following Turkey’s directives, have “voted” in favour of the National Unity Party and the Democratic Party. Nevertheless, from 2003 onwards Turkey seems to have trust in Mehmed Ali Talat and the Republican Turkish Party and this is one of the reasons that have led to the end of the Denktash era and to the assumption of power by Mehmed Ali Talat and the Republican Turkish Party. The last ‘‘parliamentary and presidential elections’’ demonstrated that the ruling RTP drew a large number of voters from the settlers. Nevertheless, the Republican Turkish Party, Peace and Democracy Movement the Communal Liberation Party and New Cyprus Party have traditionally drawn their support mainly from Turkish Cypriots.
(Peace and Democracy Movement and the Communal Liberation Party merged in June 2007 and formed the Communal Democracy Party).
Republican Turkish Party
The Republican Turkish Party (RTP) was founded in 1970. Its first leader Ahmet Mithat Berberoglu, was succeeded by Ozker Ozgur. In early 1995, Ozgur resigned, having disagreed with the party’s line and was succeeded by Mehmet Ali Talat. When Talat assumed office as “president of the TRNC” Ferdi Sabit Soyer was elected new party leader. In the last “elections” for the so-called assembly in February 2005, RTP obtained 44, 51% of the “votes” and 24 out of 50 “seats”. Following the June 2006 by-elections, it now holds 25 “seats” and is the biggest partner of the “coalition government” formed with the Freedom and Reform Party (FRP) in September 2006, holding 7 “ministries”. RTP follows a centre-left wing policy and is traditionally supported by the Turkish Cypriots. The RTP΄s mouthpiece is the daily Yeniduzen.
The party has a tradition of bi-communal activity, has supported re-unification and is opposed to any kind of partition. The RTP considers the status quo in Cyprus unacceptable and supports a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation as the solution to the Cyprus problem, within the context of the Anan Plan. Nevertheless, after assuming power the strong pro-unification positions and the hard line opposition towards Turkey’s partition policy were abandoned. RTP is in favour of the continuation of the guarantee rights of Turkey and the permanent presence of Turkish troops in Cyprus. In the post-referendum era and after Cyprus΄ accession to the EU, the RTP concentrated its efforts towards lifting the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots and upgrading the illegal “ΤRNC” arguing that this will be a strategic contribution towards the solution of the problem.
During the negotiation talks for the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU, the RTP favoured Turkish Cypriot participation in the negotiation team on an equal basis. After the accession of Cyprus however, the ruling RTP leads the attempts of the illegal “ΤRΝC” to establish “relations” with the European institutions.
As regards the Turkish settlers the RTP was against the influx of thousands of Turkish citizens in Cyprus underlining that this influx transforms the demographic character of the island and gives Turkey the power to intervene in the internal affairs of the Turkish-Cypriot community. However, this stance has since the “parliamentary elections” of 2003 changed, mainly because of the need to attract “votes” from the settlers. Τhe RTP now argues that the settlers issue should be regarded as humanitarian and totally accepts the relevant provisions of the Anan Plan. Since April 2004, the intensification of this systematic influx of settlers has become evident. The change of policy regarding the settlers issue produced results in the last “parliamentary” (February 2005) and “presidential” (April 2005) “elections”. RTP won a significant percentage amongst the Turkish settlers “voters”. According to estimates, in comparison to the 14% of settlers supporters in the “parliamentary elections” of 2003, RTP received 28% in the “parliamentary elections” of 2005.
National Unity Party
The National Unity Party (NUP) was founded in 1975 by Rauf Denktash. It is a right wing conservative party which dominated, together with its founder, the political life in the occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus since 1974. The party was for years under the leadership of Dervis Eroglu. In 1994 it merged with the Motherland Parrty of Orham Ucok (settlers). The 16th party congress (17.12.2006) declared Mr. Tahsin Ertugruloglu, the only candidate, as its new leader. It now holds 14 “seats” in the so-called “assembly”. In the “presidential elections” of April 2005 the candidate Dervis Eroglu concentrated 30,14% of “votes”. The party has been traditionally supported by the Turkish settlers. The NUP΄s mouthpiece is Gunes.
The NUP and its founder Denktash are the architects of the “declaration of independence”. Its leadership has repeatedly and consistently opposed the establishment of a federation in Cyprus. Its target is a loose confederation and, in the long term, two separate states. Together with Turkey it has designed and implemented the policy of the colonization by Turkish settlers of the occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus.
The NUP had strongly opposed the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU without Turkey and without a solution to the Cyprus problem. NUP was also opposed to the participation of Turkish Cypriots in the negotiation process, demanding equal status, thus, status of a separate “state”. NUP is now in favour of close contacts between the so-called “institutions” of the ‘‘TRNC’’ and European institutions.
NUP was also against the Annan Plan as the basis of the solution of the Cyprus problem and considers that any solution should first take into account the reality of the ‘‘TRNC’’.
Democratic Party (DP)
The DP was founded in 1992 when 10 “parliamentarians” abandoned the NUP under Rauf Denktash΄s inducement and formed this new political organization. It is a centre-right wing nationalistic party, headed by Serdar Denktash, the son of Rauf Denktash. The DP has gradually embodied smaller right wing political parties including the party representing the settlers. It now holds 6 “seats” in the so-called “assembly”. In the last “presidential elections” in April 2005 the DP candidate Mustafa Arabacioglu won 13, 22% of the “votes”. The DP participated until September 2006 in the “coalition government” under Ferdi Sabit Soyer. After the resignation of the so-called “government” and the resignation of one of its “MPs” the DP is now in the opposition. Its mouthpiece is daily Cumhuriyet Kibris.
The positions of the DP are identical to those expressed for years by Rauf Denktash. DP supports that no solution can be reached before “TRNC” is recognized. In general DP is in favour οf the political equality of two “separate sovereign states” in Cyprus and the continuation of the intervention and guarantee rights of Turkey on the island. In addition DP is against the return of the Greek Cypriots to their homes in the occupied part of the island.
As regards accession to the EU the DP considered unthinkable that Cyprus could join an international organization in which Turkey was not also a member.
DP΄s position on the Annan Plan was not clear and varied according to the circumstances and the trend among the Turkish Cypriots at a given moment. At the critical time of the referendum the leadership called on DP supporters to vote according to their consciousness.
Freedom and Reform Party (FRP)
The Freedom and Reform Party was founded in September 2006 by former members of the National Unity Party and the Democratic Party. Its “parliamentary group” consists of “parliamentarians” “elected” with the NYP and the DP who resigned from their parties in early September 2006. It now has 4 “seats” in the so-called “assembly”. The party leader is Turgay Avci former General Secretary of the NYP. FRP participates in the newly formed “government” under Ferdi Sabit Soyer holding 3 “ministries”.
According to declarations of its leader the FRP will support an overall solution to the Cyprus Problem under the UN umbrella and based on the political and economic equality and will include bi-zonality and the guarantees of Turkey. The party believes in the necessity of the continuation of sincere, constant and strong ties with Turkey. Furthermore, Turgay Avci declares that the party will be reformist, transparent and will be working collectively to serve the interests of the people.
Communal Democracy Party
The Communal Democracy Party was founded in June 2007 with the merger of the Peace and Democracy Movement and the Communal Liberation Party. Mehmet Cakici, was elected as President of the party. The Communal Democracy Party has “one seat” in the so called “assembly”. Mustafa Akkinci, the party’s sole “parliamentarian” was the leader the Peace and Democracy Movement.
The Parties that merged to establish the Communal Democracy Party supported the Annan Plan. During the first congress of the Party its leader supported that the only road map which is valid for the Turkish Cypriots regarding the Cyprus question is the road map of 24 April and argued that the Turkish Cypriots voted “yes” in the referendum because they support the ideas of the EU.
According to Mustafa Akinci the party emerged from the people’s desire to find a solution to the Cyprus question and at the same time join the EU. The PDM had strongly supported the Annan Plan. It considers that the “isolation” of the Turkish Cypriots should be lifted and that the Turkish Cypriots should develop economic, social, political and cultural relations with the international community.
United Cyprus Party
UCP was founded in 2002. It is a left wing party under the leadership of Izzet Izcan. Its mouthpiece is weekly Birlesik Kibris. It is not represented in the current “assembly”. The party did not participate in the ‘‘municipal elections or the parliamentary by-election’’ of June 2006.
Outlining the goals and principles of his party Izcan stated that UCP favours a solution based on human rights and freedoms within the context of the relevant UN resolutions and the high-level agreements between Archbishop Makarios and Denktash of 1977 and between Kyprianou-Denktash in 1979. The party supported the Annan Plan.
New Cyprus Party (NCP)
It is a left wing party (until 30/1/04 Patriotic Unity Movement). The secretary general is Rasih Keskiner and its mouthpiece is weekly Yeni Cag.
The party strives against the continuous influx of settlers and the demographic transformation of the Turkish Cypriot community. Prior to the “parliamentary elections” of 2003 NCP had applied to the European Court of Human Rights against the “right” of the settlers to vote. Before Cyprus΄ accession to the EU, NCP favoured participation of Turkish Cypriots in the negotiation process based on political equality. NCP supported the Annan Plan in the referendum of 2004.