Turkey has lived through a couple of months nightmarish with a complete focus on Syria/Idlib. Turkey had martyrs, Turkish economy has been affected very much negatively from that painful process. The cost of the refugees has been no longer a financial problem and has transformed to a social time bomb too. Turkey was almost on the brink of an armed conflict with Russian Federation.
While these developments are taking place in Idlib, a sneaky calm before the storm is prevailing in the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus. The preparations for “the Crusader Navy” with an anti-Turkey character are proceeding. A great effort for making Agreement on Maritime Zones between Turkey and Libya non-functional is exerted. As for in Cyprus, Rogue Administration of Southern Cyprus (RASC) is increasing its endeavor to toughen its isolation policies further on Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
2. PRESIDENTS OF THE TRNC AND NEGOTIATIONS ON CYPRUS
While Turkey is dealing with such kind of issues, the TRNC is preparing for presidential elections which will be held in April. The TRNC can be defined as a young state whose democratic and political practices have reached to a considerable mature level. In this sense, a good example could have been created in the previous elections as practices of pluralist democracy.
The common ground for the previous elections (legislative and presidential) was the absolute acceptance of a possible unification with the South by all parties and candidates.
Although Rauf Denktaş, the Founder President, has seen the great danger which would be endangered by the unification with Greeks, he continued to inter-communal talks for a settlement in Cyprus with Turkey’s instructions (it can be regarded as Turkey’s pressure as well).
The laws in TRNC authorize the President and confer responsibility to it as “Chief Negotiator”. Denktaş, in the inter-communal talks in which he attended as Chief Negotiator, has always revealed a constant and strong will which has been non-conciliatory about Turkey’s and TRNC’s interests. Even, he has been assumed with the attribution of “Mr. No” by the international community because of that non-conciliatory attitude of him.
Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, soon after it came to power, has changed state position on Cyprus which has been maintained for years with an enthusiasm on EU integration. The process called as Annan Plan has been put in place. The President Rauf Denktaş resisted to Annan Plan with all his power and exerted a great effort to explain to AKP government the traps during his last term in the office. On the other hand, AKP government behaved to Denktaş almost like a “persona non grata” and purged Denktaş politically by giving full support to Mehmet Ali Talat in the presidential elections.
Annan Plan has been submitted in the referendum by full support of the Government of the Republic of Turkey and Mehmet Ali Talat and it got 65% of votes for “yes” with the perception pressure enforced on Turkish Cypriot people. However, 75% voting for “no” to Annan Plan in Greek Cypriot side has recovered both Turkey and TRNC from a disaster.
In this process, European Union (EU) has awarded Greek side instead of punishing and enrolled RASC to EU as full member representing the whole island.
Turkey and TRNC has continued to loose time and ground by staying in the spiral of inter-communal talks, in other words “A Federative Solution to Cyprus Issue”. However, they should have moved on with the decision of fully independent and sovereign TRNC by withdrawing from the negotiations with their free will in relation to that unethical behavior.
Mehmet Ali Talat, Derviş Eroğlu and Mustafa Akıncı did not see harm in pursuing talks with RASC (within the implicit approval of Turkey) who is implementing unmerciful isolation policies on TRNC, during their presidential period. Despite it is known that Greek side, who got hold of whole sovereign authority related with the entire island, would not make any agreement until TRNC fully surrenders, it has always made Turkish side make compromises on the table and has recorded, and has left the table until the next talks. Mustafa Akıncı has culminated of the compromises that can be made in the inter-communal talks held in Crans Montana in 2017, and he could make bold to make compromises beyond the limits defined by the authorization of TRNC Assembly and Turkey’s consent.
The main responsible of the ground lost encountered from 2003 to 2019 is AKP government. Because, presidents elected in TRNC have conducted the negotiations in cooperation with Turkey. When it comers to 2019, AKP government “finally” could have noticed the real intentions of Greek side and imperialism behind it. RASC, while it is detaining Turkey and TRNC with negotiations on one hand, on the other hand it has parceled the seas, issued licenses for exploration and operation, leveraged sovereign authority on behalf of whole Cyprus island by extending it.
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, could have finally stated in September 2019 that a solution with two sovereign states in the island should be considered as an option, too, upon Akıncı’s behaviors getting out of control. Turkey, in 2019, has declared to the world with strong moves and decisiveness shows that she would not appease from the rights of Blue Homeland in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey has left the long period of passivity behind with seismic detection and drilling, well-attended sea and air maneuvers and Agreement on Maritime Zones with Libya. That strong rising of Turkey have had a great influence, Greece and the RASC increased their efforts to form anti-Turkey political and military coalitions.
3. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN THE TRNC
TRNC is preparing for presidential elections which will be held at the end of April, under those regional conditions summarized above. Unlike the other elections, this election is of vital importance and meaning beyond a presidential election. Although people will vote for electing a president, the results of the election will produce the effect of a referendum and will be distinctive in the future of TRNC, Cyprus, Eastern Mediterranean and Turkey.
In fact, the only and true result for Turkey and TRNC after these elections would be going of TRNC into a way in which she would not fall into proven traps such as Federation/Confederation, which she had fallen in the past. Because, these options are including the traps, such as EU integration where Turkey is not a member, which may cause the melting and annihilation of TRNC in time. These are the process which may also annihilate Turkey’s effective guarantee and military existence on the island.
When the candidates are running their campaigns in these days, it is seen that categorically there are candidate clustering in two basic axis. In the first axis, there are candidates who are still chasing for unification with RASC by ignoring what RASC did until today; in the second axis, there are candidates who are “distant” to unification with RASC but do not want to break much as away from federation. It is expected the candidates would get more closer to the solution model of “Solution with Two Sovereign States in Cyprus” as the campaign period progressed in TRNC.
It is upsetting that there are still “Federationist” candidates within TRNC when a short time is left to the elections. But, what is more upsetting is that those ones who are against to Federation missed the opportunity to wipe the ones who are enthusiastic for unifying with the South away in the elections by consolidating on a single candidate. The people of TRNC has shown a strategic direction in the opinion surveys conducted before the elections by supporting Turkey’s effective guarantee and military existence on the island with a more than 80% rate.
The people of TRNC suffered and paid price in the past. They know better than the candidates that they have liberated from captivity after Cyprus Peace Operation in 1974 and they would deplete, if they concede their sovereignty to Greek.
The Turkish Resistance Organization (TMT) is alive in the genes of the people of the TRNC. It should not be suspected that the people of the TRNC will elect the most proper person as the President who would sustain and move their own values forward, and would integrate with Turkey in every field.
Soon after the election, TRNC, as the equal and sovereign state in the island, will walk to her own future, in which she will live forever, by defining new constitutionality with the full support of Turkey.
4. NOT TO SEE CYPRUS WHILE LOOKING AT IDLIB
Turkey is putting up a great fight in a real circle of fire. At the moment, country’s agenda and limited resources are prioritized in Syria through Idlib. Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus are as much of the vital importance for Turkey. Turkey does not have the luxury for paying no attention to the elections in TRNC by giving more focus on Syria. The presidential elections in TRNC is closely related with Turkey’s future, too, and it should be put on the agenda of the country in a short period of time.
(*) R. Admiral