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Turkish Cypriots Lay Claim to Their State

Turkish Cypriots Lay Claim to Their State

Turkish Cypriot people gave a clear message on January 7, even to those who would rather deny it: “I am not giving up my state, the guarantee of Turkey, and the protection that the Turkish military is providing me.”

The participation rate has remained at 60 per cent, as usual. A friend of mine reprimanded me, after learning I was not going to vote, with the words of American theater critic and journalist George Jean Nathan, who died in 1958: “bad politicians are chosen by good citizens who do not vote.” It is true. I should have participated. Regardless, the results were very positive; people spoke and claimed what is just, even if it is no talked around much.

Official results should be announced soon. According to what we currently know, UBP received 36% of the vote and managed to squeeze 21 members to a parliament of 50 seats total. This is a great success compared to the 2013 election, in which they had won 14 seats with 27.3 percent of the vote. The Republican Turkish Party (CTP) should have fared better in my opinion. They were set back by the change of leadership, the balances that did not sit well within the party, and the fact that the old-time members turned their back on the young administration which led to a major setback compared to 2013. Then, they had 38.3 percent of the vote and had claimed 21 seats. Now, the CTP will be represented with only 12 MPs in the new parliament after receiving only 21% of the votes.

The People’s Party, which was newly established and sprouted nationalist messages is not exactly thrilled to receive 17%. They are wrong. I think that this is a welcoming response from the people for a party who entered the elections for the first time and managed to claim 9 parliament seats. I hope the PP will cease their wrongdoing, and will contribute positively towards a possible coalition government in the coming days.

Another loser of the elections was the Democratic Party (DP). Why did they lose? Actually, DP did better than expected. The 7.9 per cent of votes they got this time is a huge decline to their 2013 results: 23.2%, but we have to remember that the conditions were different back then.  DP was also punished for their stance against the Act that would put an end to hopes of a Federation. Still, DP is one of the six parties to be represented in the Parliament.

The real defeat has to be owned by the Socialist Democracy Party (TDP), which received 8.7 percent of the vote, and the Socialist Liberation Party (TKP), which recently broke away from TDP. The TKP is now out of parliament while the TDP has barely maintained its 2013 results. The newly formed Rebirth Party (YDP), had a good performance with 7% of the votes and 2 seats in the Parliament.

The results are obvious. There is no arithmetical formula that can yield a single-party government. As it stands, we have to concentrate on a 2 or 3 party coalition government. Who will step up? This, too, is more or less obvious. Despite calls for early elections, there are 2-3 coalition options available. The prime candidate is a UBP-CTP coalition which will garner support from Turkey and the outside world. CTP is currently in a “no way!” mood, but we’ll see. The second and more viable option is an UBP-HP coalition. Although HP has spoken against it in the past, that was the campaign period. In fact, an UBP-HP government can be very effective. Yet another option is a CTP-HP coalition. Seems very difficult, but anything is possible in politics.  The easiest to achieve but the most difficult to maintain would be a coalition of DP and YDP under the leadership of UBP.

I think a coalition will be agreed upon and we will not see an early election. The 6-party parliament will, of course, be able to come up with a healthy formula for government.

We should not lose sight of the main issue, though.  In this election the people gave a very clear political message. True, many people, including myself, wrote, talked and complained about the fact that topics such as the Cyprus issue and our red lines were never part of the national conversation. Haven’t we all lamented that the campaigns focused on Prime Minister Hussein Ozgurgun’s personal life and sexual adventures more than anything else? If Cyprus issues were never discussed, then at what point did the people laid claim to the national snafus?

True. These questions are all justified. That was exactly what we were criticizing. It was unacceptable that no national issues were being discussed during a period when the Greek Cypriot side were getting ready to set the agenda for the future of Cyprus following their own presidential elections, when the termination of Turkish guarantee and the retreat of the Turkish army were issues on the table, and when the process that had failed after the greedy attitude of the Greeks in Crans Montana was set to be restarted.

What happened was, the people talked even if their politicians didn’t.  The public overwhelmingly, to the degree of 70%, voted for the parties that are advocates of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, its sovereignty, Turkish military presence on the island, Turkey’s guarantor status.

President Mustafa Akinci and others who tried to make it look like they were negotiating with the Greeks, but who were actually trying to get the Turkish side to agree to meet their demands of  surrender to the Greeks under a federation, ending Turkey’s guarantor status and the presence of Turkish military, as well as people like Doğuş Derya, Şener Elcil and others who possess identity crises and think Northern Cyprus Independence celebrations are nothing but a pain rightly received a slap in the face.

The election results are a very serious message and a meaningful message to Akıncı and his team. Akinci’s Social Democracy Party (TDP) could not topple its 2013 numbers, and the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) has lost both its first party status and almost half of its parliament seats not only the first party but also almost half of the number of seats in the parliament.

Akinci and his negotiating team who were surrounding to a position of a province rather than negotiating for a just representation were given a strong message by the people. They are no longer in a position to deny these results, a two-state solution, the continuation of Turkey’s guarantee and the presence of their military forces.

What needs to be done now is establish a national government that will satisfy all the political parties and non-political organizations, associations, foundations that lay claim to the national case; and prepare, protect and glorify the legal framework that will push the TRNC forward.

Of course, negotiations will continue. However, the goal should be a very tentative confederation formed by two states or two sovereign states within the EU. In this respect, the Republican Assembly must now take the initiative and either warn or dismiss Akıncı and his team as negotiators. Akinci is a negotiator on behalf of the Parliament, not himself.

About The Author

Yusuf Kanli

Born in Cyprus in 1959, Yusuf Kanlı is a graduate of the English Language and Literature Department of the Faculty of Letters of the Ankara University. He started journalism with the Turkish Daily News in 1978. Until he briefly left the paper in 1985 (for military service in Northern Cyprus) he served as diplomatic correspondent, assistant foreign news editor and assistant editor. During this period he was as well one of the two co-authors of an annual reference book on Turkey, “Turkey Almanac”. After completing his military service he returned the Daily News as assistant editor. In 1989 he became executive editor and also started writing daily opinion articles. He continued to be one of the co-authors of the “Turkey Almanac” annual reference book. In February 1993, over differences with the publisher on editorial policy, he quit the paper and joined the Anatolia News Agency (AA) as deputy foreign news chief. He stayed with the Anatolia News Agency until September 1995. In this period, he covered the Armenia-Azerbaijan war over Nogorno-Karabagh, covered developments in the post-independence Central Asian republics. Because of his refusal as the duty editor to run a manipulated news story demanded by the then lady prime minister of the country, he was fired from the AA, a development that Kanlı considers as his “medal of honor” in the profession. On his return to the Daily News for a third time in October 1995, he first became an editor at large but soon assumed the responsibility of electronic publishing and established Turkey’s first daily updated English language news web site, the TDN Online on May 19, 1996 (now www.hurriyetdailynews.com). In January 1997, he became executive editor of the Daily News for a second time and stayed in that post until he was appointed as editor-in-chief in June 2004. In February 2007, he quit all executive duties and became a contract columnist of the newspaper. He has been also writing weekly articles in Turkish for a variety of newspapers and news portals in Northern Cyprus. He is a former chairperson and the honorary chairperson of Diplomacy Correspondents Association (DMD) of Turkey, an active member of Association of Foreign Policy Council, a member of the executive board and vice chairperson of the Association of Journalists and coordinator of the Press for Freedom project, which has been monitoring and reporting on press and freedom of expression issues in Turkey since 2013. He has been a member of several associations and foundations, mostly established by Turkish Cypriots living in Turkey or abroad. He is married to Dr. Aydan Kanlı and has one daughter, Cansu. He has Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and Cypriot triple nationality.

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