What Is Happening In Cyprus: Anti-Turkism Within Turkish Cypriots – OpEd


“We always see anti-Turkish rhetoric in election campaigns in Europe. But it is unacceptable to see this happening in Turkish Cypriot politics as well”. “We hear words from Turkish Cypriots even Greek Cypriots cannot dare to say against Turkey”. These are the statements of the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and spokesperson of the AKP, the ruling party of Turkey, Omer Celik about the interview given by the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to the Guardian newspaper.

Anybody who knows a little bit of the Cyprus problem and the positions of the Cypriot communities is aware of the fact that using “anti-Turkism” and “Turkish Cypriots” terms in one sentence is not an oxymoron but the shocking reality.

The reason behind it relies on the fact that Turkish Cypriots are a community that is not ethnically Turkish but people of Cyprus who were forced to accept that identity, first under the Ottoman rule due to oppression and later under the British rule as a product of divide and rule policy. Today, despite the fact that they use the Turkish language after the campaigns of Brits inviting teachers from the young Republic of Turkey, Turkish Cypriots protect their Cypriot culture and social values which are totally different from mainland Turks. And these differences trigger the tension in the unwilling and forced marriage between the Turkish Cypriot community and the Turkish State.

Turkish Cypriots are considered as the most unfortunate side in the Cyprus game. After Cyprus got its independence from the United Kingdom, they were left out from their constitutional rights in the Republic of Cyprus by Greek Cypriots. And the never-ending mistakes of the Greek Cypriots and their aim to annex Cyprus with Greece resulted in Turkey’s occupation of the northern parts of the island. This made Greek Cypriots to hold on what they have, a republic which has Turkish and Greek as official languages, a constitution that begins with pointing that Turkish Cypriots equally own the state with Greek Cypriots and the national flag was drawn by a Turkish Cypriot. But the only problem is that today the vast majority of the Turkish Cypriot population lives in the northern occupied area of Cyprus under the Turkish authority and oppression. Basically, while the island got occupied, the biggest loser was the community that nobody cared to ask anything before causing all the trauma. Nor their compatriots or the so-called “motherland”.

The current leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mustafa Akinci’s long history of fighting against Turkey’s national policies towards Cyprus made him one of the most hated people in Turkey. But his popularity and support in the Cypriot and international community is undisputable. Despite the small population of Turkish Cypriots, he and his party are not the only ones who share a similar vision and perspective within the community. The “Union of Cypriots” is one of the leading organizations that structured the ideology of Cypriotism and blends it with the unitary Cypriot state objective. They are left-wing nationalists and progressives who believe that dividing this small island nation to zones and communities is the very plan of the imperialists. The organization’s president Oz Karahan was an MEP (Member of the European Parliament) candidate in 2019 and also writes in another important anti-Turkey figure’s newspaper, Şener Levent’s “Afrika”.

Next to the barricades dividing Cyprus with Oz Karahan, a young prominent figure and the president of the Cypriotist and unitarist political organisation, Union of Cypriots. (Photo by the author, Monica Gillan)
Next to the barricades dividing Cyprus with Oz Karahan, a young prominent figure and the president of the Cypriotist and unitarist political organisation, Union of Cypriots. (Photo by the author, Monica Gillan)

Unlike the Union of Cypriots that believes in a short cut way for liberation with by advocating unitarism -the current system of the Republic of Cyprus-, many other Turkish Cypriot political parties and NGOs believe in a “bizonal bicommunal federal” republic. Even though this idea is less realistic as well as less popular within Greek Cypriots, it is also the solution that the United Nations support. 

In 2004, a referendum took place on the island for a united federal Cyprus and got rejected by Greek Cypriots while it was accepted by Turkish Cypriots. After this incident, the international community, including the European Union, started pouring money to the Turkish Cypriot community. And it is mostly an unwritten rule that as a civil society organization who wants to get funding for your activities for a united Cyprus, you have to advocate for the infamous bizonal bicommunal federation (BBF). This created an enormous “industry of federalism” and an inflation of ineffective so-called civil society organizations whose life lasts only as long as their projects are financed. Nevertheless, these are the places where young Turkish Cypriots got paid since they were not able to get “governmental” jobs in the occupied area because of their Cypriot origin.

It is important to underline that until a few years ago these federalist organizations were tolerated by Turkey because they were originally supporting the BBF, which was a Turkish solution thesis for Cyprus, today, they also become a target because of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Neo-Ottomanist dreams.

Now, the Turkish Cypriot society is divided by their beliefs of the way to survive from the bloodless genocide they are facing. Forces like Union of Cypriots, Jasmine Movement, and Afrika newspaper represent the unitarist and Cypriotist front that gains the most sympathy within Greek Cypriots and is getting more and more popular between Turkish Cypriots. The bizonal bicommunal federalist organizations, political parties and individuals gather around the current Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci or the Turkish Cypriot MEP Niyazi Kizilyurek. And there is also a small portion of Turkish Cypriots who are normally secularist but collaborate with Turkey’s Islamofascist Erdogan regime for their personal interest, like “trojan horses”. Even though this last group is extremely unpopular within Turkish Cypriots, they are staying alive by the support of illegal Turkish settlers who outnumber Turkish Cypriots by around ten to one in the occupied area of the island.

Anti-Turkism and resistance against Turkey will exist in Cyprus as long as Turkish Cypriots manage to continue existing in their homeland against all the oppression they face from Turkey and their Greek Cypriot compatriots. When we look at the current positions and mindsets of the Cypriot communities, it is obvious that sooner or later, the Greek Cypriots who are enjoying the status-quo for 45 years because of Turkey’s busyness of handling Turkish Cypriots, will be the next target of Turkey. Will Greek Cypriots be able to resist today’s strong Turkey’s actions like how Turkish Cypriots do for almost 46 years? This looks unlikely when we look at the 1974’s weak Turkey’s smooth operation of Attila.

*Monica Gillan is an independent conflict researcher specialized in Eastern and Southern Europe.

7 thoughts on “What Is Happening In Cyprus: Anti-Turkism Within Turkish Cypriots – OpEd

  • March 6, 2020 at 10:09 am

    It will be good if you read some history on Cyprus and the Turkish people .

  • March 6, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    Yes we are all Cypriots and we love CYPRUS let’s get all foreign armies out of our beautiful island….. Turkey is only interested in one thing……… what’s under the sea in our one and only amazing island…..all you big boys UK USA Turkey GREECE live us alone we can look after our own island

  • March 6, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    …indeed only about half those Turkish in Cyprus are “Turkish”, after all these decades of having torn Cypriots apart. Then same is true with “Greeks” and Greeks.

    When considering the Cyprus Problem let’s remember who was murdered and made to disappear for the most part. It was not “Greeks” and “Turks” busying themselves killing each other; those who were not “them” were their victims, for “being” Cypriot.

    And let’s remember the coup that successfully removed Makarios from power, failed in less than three days. Without the support of Cypriots who were thought to be “Greeks”, but who instead remained shuttered in their homes. It was overwhelming as a fact, Greeks are not “Greeks” just because they are Greek.

    It should be obvious by now that “Greeks” and “Turks” are no different, just as Greeks and Turks are no different.

    And in affect the Problem is not one of Greeks vs Turks, or “Greeks” vs “Turks”, but “Greeks” and “Turks” vs Greeks and Turks.

    …it is perhaps a hopeful sign that Mr. Akinci did not resign, and that he is running for re-election. I ask, does he have the courage to stand under his Flag, the one the “others” have contempt for, the Flag of Cyprus?

    • March 6, 2020 at 6:41 pm

      We, the Turkish Cypriots are one hundred percent full blooded Turkish Cypriots and we are Muslim. There two communities and they are Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot. We were massacred by the eoka terrorist from 1958 to 1974 when the Turkey intervened to safeguard our lives and property. Enosis exists today as it existed back then.

      The Republic of Cyprus was created by the Guarantor agreements signed by Turkey, United Kingdom, and Greece. Greek Cypriots used force to dissolve parliament in 1963.

      Agreements between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots have been on going but to no avail of reaching an agreement. We want our TRNC to be independent and not be governed by the Greek Cypriots so that we are treated as second class citizens by them.

      We don’t need Europe to tell us what our ethnic origin is. We are a separate ethnic origin called Turkish Cypriots and not Greek Cypriots. We wont our own country to be recognised and not be ruled by a the Greek Cypriots who have done everything to have our freedom and independence recognised by the world.

      Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and not Republic of Cyprus as they lost the right to it when they used force to bring the government down in 1963.

  • March 14, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    Mehmet Kemal. Turkish Cypriots are not a separate ethnic origin. We share the same gene pool as all true Cypriots who has a strong ancestral presence in Cyprus… A little bit of Middle East, Southern Europe, Africa… So you want “TRNC” be independent, but let me guess that independence means a heavy dependence on Turkey… A puppet, always living under the shadow of Turkish army and heavy armament in Cyprus. And before you go off, yes I am a Cypriot, a true Cypriot going generations back in Cyprus… I detested learning Turkish history,geography, religous lessons and singing national anthem and all the other nationalist propaganda I had to endure. As a Cypriot why did I have to do those things? Why couldn’t I study my own country’s rich history properly that goes back thousands years? Do you really think that the island was empty when Ottomans occupied it? Turkey did not intervene to safeguard jacksh*t. Turkey and Greece intervened as told by NATO to divide the island so England can get its bases and continue its presence without potential strong opposition, so US can have a proper grip in Middle East and also fend off the “red scare”… You seriously need de-programming.

  • March 26, 2020 at 11:51 am

    Things are never simple because sentiments and positions change depending on circumstances.It is a historic fact that many Muslim Cypriots change their religion from Christian during the Ottoman occupation to save their properties.The actions or better reactions to events from the late 40 s to now of the so called Turkish Cypriot community are not consistent because they suffered pressure from Turkey , the British rulers and the aggression of our part – Greek Cypriots. Turkey, a manufactured ethnic entity from the remains of the Ottoman Empire, struggled and will straggle to define an identity. The name Turkey is unfortunate not only because it reminds the big bird but because has all the connotations of the barbaric tribes of central Asia. The Italians still use the frase “mamma dei Turchi” indicating that something horrible happened.The West always emphasized the usefulness of Turkey to their strategic and economic interests, the reason why after the Great War the Germans constructed this historic peculiarity.Under the power and pressure of this monstrosity called Turkey a normal Muslim with a history and culture of a few thousand years is very normal to react and to aspire to keep his identity as a citizen of the European Union.

  • July 20, 2021 at 8:03 am

    Turkey sent its military into Cyprus in response to a failed military coup which was accompanied by massacres of Turkish Cypriots by armed Greek militias.

    The majority of Turkish Cypriots are grateful to Turkey regardless of whether or not they agree with the policies of individual Turkish governments. The author of this piece has got her facts all mixed up. Turkish Cypriots are Turkish, see themselves as such and have legitimate reasons for mistrusting Greek misrule.


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