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Who is The Fool?

Who is The Fool?

An old and beloved friend of mine, whom I cannot see nowadays due to our geographical distance, has a saying:

“He who takes the other as a fool is a fool himself.”

It is a beautiful and profound saying. I don’t know how many remember it today. The leader of Turkish Cypriots, Mustafa Akinci had spoken to Espen Berth Eide, Special Counsel to UN Secretary General on Cyprus, just before he was getting ready to leave the island. Eide had told Akinci to not give up on the unification of the island, and Akinci, in response had stated that there wasn’t much chance left for a Federation in Cyprus since the Greek side was opposing plans for a rotating presidency and that they were hiding behind the guarantees by other nations. He had further proposed a two-state solution within the EU.

Akinci’s stance went against what the republican Turkish political parties have always been advocating for: “A federation, and nothing but a federation.” An attitude shared by most leftists in Turkey who had attacked Akinci for his opinions back then. Now, I can’t say for sure whether Mr. Akinci was speaking in retaliation for the attacks against him, or he had realized, at the time, that it would better serve the interest of Turkish Cypriots instead of trying endlessly to appease the Greek side. In the end, we are left with a confused man at the helm, who has long been in hiding, who has been trying to get whatever he can via secret, closed-door negotiations, and who, as a leader to his people, was unable to tell them what he was aiming for, and what kind of a solution he was after. It is as if, everyone involved in the negotiations are fools -except for Mustafa Akinci, Asim Aksoy and their ilk.

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Greek leader Nikos Anastasiades, in contrast, recently explained to his people and the world exactly what type of a solution they are after as well as the meaning and implications of their “loose federation” proposals. His reverie for Cyprus reads like a bad joke. On one hand, he is talking about “forming a loose federation”, and “empowering local authorities and decentralization”, while, on the other, he talks about trimming the principles of equality, but not the principle of rule by majority. Furthermore, he goes on to say that, the Turkish side must do away with their demands for security and guarantees since it will have no meaning within the EU.

As much as Mr. Okansoy keeps insisting that Anastasiades has not, actually, yet made his position clear, he obviously has. And it is not just a surrender, but also a treason to dream and talk about a federation in Cyprus when the Greek side has stated orally -and in writing, their clear position. The President of TRNC must stop acting like a romantic and must come to his senses as the representative of the Turkish population on the island, and must begin to clearly articulate his position, and his conditions for the negotiations to continue.

Doesn’t a two-state solution under EU approximate an indirect federal system, anyway? A solution centered around territory approximation, borders, property rights, and compensations would be a much more easily accessible end goal. Such a solution is also easier to hold and maintain, and it may turn the Mediterranean into peaceful waters that the whole world can benefit from. We already know that the EU is opposing this idea, but doesn’t it make more sense to look at this as a Cyprus-specific issue, rather than a Paris or Madrid or a generic minority issue?

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The United States, as well as the international companies who want to do business in the region are well aware that the recent oil and natural gas explorations conducted in Eastern Mediterranean are going to complicate the Cyprus situation. So, how come the Greeks and the EU are still trying to hamper the efforts? Soon, when the TRNC authorizes them, Turkish drilling companies will get to work. If they find enough hydrocarbon to process to the north and south of the island, it will get much harder to manage the situation. If we are really after a solution, today is the day for it. Tomorrow may be too late.

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 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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