Will Turkish-Cypriot community election result turn the tables in the Cyprus problem?

Will Turkish-Cypriot community election result turn the tables in the Cyprus problem?

Ankara, April 24, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

The President candidate Mustafa Akinci who the Turks call the “Tsipras of the Turkish-Cypriots”

He wants to return Famagusta to its legitimate residents

His views infuriate his opponents

By Manolis Kostidis

New hope for resolving the Cyprus problem emerges on the island with the increased possibility of left politician Mustafa Akinci being elected as president of the Turkish Cypriot community.

In the first round of elections held last Sunday, the 77-year old Dervis Eroglu came first with with 28.3% of vote, followed by the 68-year old Akinci with 26.8%. The situation, however, is positive for Akinci, as Sibel Siber who is supported by the CTP, and who received 22.4% of the vote, decided to support him in the second round of elections to be held Sunday.

Many people in Cyprus believe that the election of Akinci will end the era of extreme policies of Denktash and Eroglu. He has made it clear that he wants the Turkish-Cypriots to escape from the shackles of Ankara.

“We need to set aside the rhetoric of the motherland and her child and create a fraternal relationship with Turkey”, Akinci states. Namely, he states that the Turkish-Cypriots must have a relationship a “mutual respect with Turkey and the policies should be in everyone’s interest and not only Ankara’s”.

Akinci was born in Limassol, understands Greek and is a graduate of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of the Middle East in Ankara. He is in favor of the immediate resolution of the issue of Famagusta and says the city should open immediately “to return it to its rightful inhabitants, be them Greek-Cypriots or Turkish-Cypriots”.

This statement has angered Eroglu who replied that “whoever gives Famagusta can give other things as well”.

Akinci places great importance to the Turkish-Cypriot entity and has clashed for it. In 2000 as vice president had clashed with the military status quo, because he had requested the separation of the police and fire brigade from the army. The then commander of the Occupied territories had reacted strongly with Akinci stating that “the leader crossed the line. The Turkish-Cypriot people should have their own administration”.

He is one of the few politicians who have objected so strongly to the military status quo. However, the police and the fire brigade still remain under the Turkish armed forces. Akinci says that “even today a Turkish Cypriot is not allowed to become more than Colonel in the army, he is just retired from duty. In the central bank (of the Occupied territory) Turkish-Cypriots are not allowed to be governors; this must change”.

Taraf: “He is the Tsipras of the Turkish-Cypriots”

The Turkish newspaper Taraf goes so far as to call him the “Tsipras of the Turkish-Cypriots”, writing that his views are considered radical and “brings an air change and conflict with the status quo”. Of course, in the past similar predictions had been made for Mehmet Ali Talat, who was regarded as the opponent of the regime that has been established by Denktash, but despite his election and his efforts during his two-year term in office, he failed to make any big changes.

Their economy depends on Turkey

What one must to take into account regarding the Turkish Occupied territories of Cyprus is that their economy is heavily dependent on Ankara. All salaries of civil servants, which are almost twice higher than any Turkish public official, are being paid by Turkey. All public works are made with turkish liras sent from there. One should not ignore the presence of 45,000 soldiers in the region. So, despite Akinci’s good intentions, it will be difficult to do any on the things he has in mind without the consent of the Turkish government.

But even just on a level of statements and impressions his the election could bring a lighten the atmosphere in future negotiations on the Cyprus problem. Besides, he stresses that he will continue the process of negotiations for the creation of a structure that provides for a federal zonal and bi-communal system, as the two sides agreed on the joint statement of February 11, 2014.