The simmering conflict of Cyprus is calling for international community to come out of its “long and meaningful” slumber and act before it is too late. People of this Mediterranean Island of Cyprus have suffered a long history of foreign domination, violence and civil strife. A long standing dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, the conflict has turned sour and difficult to mediate because of clash of interest of not only the regional powers but international powers as well. After decades of failed diplomacy and conflict resolution, international community is supporting those who are the major actors in the conflict and who have hidden agendas to subjugate the innocent people of Cyprus. In order to reach a solution, there is a need for a balanced and unbiased approach and diplomacy. But this is all the way missing from the whole process. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is under inhuman restrictions and embargoes by the instigation of South Cyprus. From the international community, TRNC is looking for a just and lasting solution which will enable the two people to live in the island in peace and harmony without bothering each other. Political equality of the two sides should be respected. One should not try to dominate the other, as the Greek Cypriots has done to subjugate the Turkish Cypriots.
In an exclusive sitting with Dr. Derviş EROĞLU, President of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, at presidential palace in Lefkosa, capital of TRNC, The Diplomatic Insight asked H.E to highlight the conflict while explaining the working of the democratic system in TRNC . The Diplomatic Insight is producing the excerpts of the interview. Dr. Derviş has a background of medicine but later he joined politics in 1976 and became Member of Parliament for the National Unity Party (UBP) in Famagusta. He has also served as leader of his party for the District of Famagusta. After becoming members of Constituent Assembly he then elected as Chairman of the National Unity Party. He later became Prime Minister in 1985 and remained in this position until 1993. On 16 August 1996, he once again became Prime Minister in the coalition government of the National Unity Party and the Democrat Party until December 1998. He was re-elected Chairman of the National Unity Party on 29 November 2008. And on 18 April 2010, he became the third President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Following are the excepts from the interview.
Q: Thank you for sharing your time. For our readers, what are the various forms of government and how does the political system work in the country?
Ans: Northern Cyprus is a parliamentary democracy whereby President heads the state while Prime Minister is head of the government and there is a multi-party system. Assembly of the Republic of Northern Cyprus (Cumhuriyet Meclisi) has all the legislative powers are there are 50 members, elected for a five year term by proportional representation. These 50 MPs are being chosen from 5 electoral districts, Lefkosa (Nicosia), Magusa (Famagusta), Girne (Kyrenia), Guzelyurt and Iskele. Executive powers are exercised by the government headed by the President. Judiciary is independent of legislature and executive. There are several political parties that used to take part in elections including National Unity Party, Republican Turkish Party, Democratic Party, Communal Democracy Party and Freedom and Reform Party. There are four smaller parties as well other that these five parties. People of the country participate in the elections with full enthusiasm and vote for their chosen people who could well represent them in the parliament.
Q: Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has a long standing dispute. While elaborating the issue, explain various political and economic dimension of the conflict?
Ans; It all began in December 1963, following the aggression and destruction of the Republic of Cyprus by the Greek Cypriots when the Turkish Cypriots were being expelled and barred from the government, which was established in 1960 as a result of a partnership agreement between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. The two people signed international Cyprus Treaties of 1960 resulting in the sharing of power but Greek Cypriots violated that treaty resulting in the beginning of this conflict. The “Green Line” which separates the island into two zones was established in 1963 and the UN Peace Keeping Force was stationed in the island on 4th March 1964. Between 1963 and 1974 Turkish Cypriots were confined to small enclaves and were subjected to gross violations of human rights as a result of exclusion from the government. They feared for their lives. As a result of brutalities of Greek Cypriots, many went missing and almost 30,000 people became refugees. All these events are recorded in various reports submitted by the UN Secretary-Generals to the Security Council. Turkish forces were dispatched to the island in 1974 to end the oppression and support the Turkish Cypriots in the island. TRNC has always stood by the spirit of peaceful and meaningful negotiation for the last forty years to find solution to this dispute.
Q: With its unilateral and unlawful EU membership process coupled with recent presidency of EU, Greek Cypriot side has changed the dimension of the conflict. What is your opinion on that?
Ans: We believe that this is another reason that international community especially UN and EU are unable to find a just and final solution and settlement of the dispute, thus putting a halt on the negotiations. We are ready for talks and meant to resolve the conflict. We are hopeful that EU would take initiative in order to help resolving the dispute.
Q: What do you think about the major issues of Muslim world like Kashmir, Palestine, Nagorno-Karabakh?
Ans: We fully support the peaceful resolution of all these issues of Muslim world. These are humanitarian issues and needs early and steady resolution.
Q: What is your message to the people of Pakistan on the occasion of 38th Anniversary Celebrations of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus?
Ans: We are sure and confident that Pakistan, people of Pakistan would progress in a better way. Pakistan was the second country after Turkey who has recognized us in 1983. Pakistan has supported us in every possible way at the international forums. Therefore I would like to extend my love and greetings to the great people of Pakistan. They have always cooperated with us and that is why we are grateful to Pakistan for its role in supporting the issue of Cyprus and stood by us.
*Exclusively by The Diplomatic Insight