GreekNews today publishes uncut an interview by Mr. Suleyman Ercuglu, the editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Cypriot daily Kibris, one of the biggest Turkish-Cypriot newspapers. We publish this interview because we feel that at this particular point in Cyprus history, we must have a clear view of what the people who will make the decisions in the occupied areas (and unfortunately the Turkish-Cypriots are a minority due to the continuous settlement with people from Anatolia) want and how close they are to our views. Because, sometimes, reading only about a few vocal, genuine voices of rapprochement, we have the illusion of living another fall of the Berlin Wall in Nicosia.
One cannot disagree with the view that the partial restoration of freedom of movement across the Green Line has indeed proven to be a significant development that has allowed Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots to meet each other and to disprove the claim by Rauf Denktash that they cannot live together.
However, the view expressed by Mr. Ercuglu in his interview that there is no foreign aggression in the northern part of Cyprus and the Greek-Cypriots should see this reality, is somehow disappointing with regard to prospects for a solution. If the Turkish-Cypriot opposition and those who want to remove Mr. Denktash from power hold the same views as those expressed in this interview, we are afraid we will not be able to reach a comprehensive settlement any time soon.
We also feel obliged to clarify that certain terms and language used in the article such as “President Denktash,” “state of North Cyprus,” “government of North” have no validity in international law as the attempted secession of the occupied part has been condemned by the UN Security Council and the illegal entity and its actions are not recognized by any country in the world but Turkey.
Mr. Ercuglu speaks of the northern Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus as if it is a separate and independent state ignoring the facts upon which their so called “reality” is founded, which are aggression, massive human rights violations and illegality. He maintains that the freedom of movement reveals to the Greek-Cypriots that there is no occupation in that area. He says the Turkish-Cypriots need to put down Mr. Denktash in order to elect new leadership capable to take them into the European Union on the basis of the Annan plan. “We want a solution because we want to live as a civilized society in the international society and not that we want to live with the Greek-Cypriots.”
But isn’t it true that Mr. Denktash with the support of the Turkish occupation forces on the island is preventing the Turkish-Cypriots from coming out of international isolation? Who is stopping the Turkish-Cypriots from living as a civilized society in the international community? Certainly not the Greek-Cypriots, and surely Mr. Denktash could not do it alone.
The status quo in Cyprus is brought about and maintained by the use of military force in violation of all norms of international law. This is an undisputable fact, well-documented in the decisions and resolutions of international bodies and courts. The fact that a long period of time has passed since the day Turkey invaded Cyprus does not mean that the international community forgot or forgave Turkey’s sins on the island. The fruits of aggression cannot be legalized by the passage of time.
Another obvious point from Mr. Ercuglu’s statements is that a main concern is how to get into the EU and grasp economic benefits and prosperity. We haven’t been able to see in his statements any sensitivity towards the suffering Greek-Cypriot refugees or any recognition that the human rights of Greek-Cypriots should be respected and restored. He supports the Annan Plan on one hand and on the other he rejects the provision that provides for the return of the refugees.
The illegal secessionist entity was through the years consolidated on continuing violations of the basic human rights of the expelled Greek-Cypriot population and of the Geneva Convention with the importation of more than 100,000 Turkish mainland settlers who have been granted citizenship rights and “title-deeds” to the usurped properties of the expelled Greek-Cypriot refugees. This is a reality that needs to be accepted by Mr. Ercuglu and other Turkish-Cypriots who share his views if they are truly interested in a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem based on international law and the respect of the human rights of all Cypriot citizens.