Turkey’s project in the TRNC has collapsed, writes columnist for Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Yeni Duzen’ Sami Ozuslu. The Turkish republic does not want the TRNC to be truly independent, politically or economically.
He writes that after 1983, when the TRNC was declared as an independent state, the intention was to cement the division of Cyprus. The world viewed the Turkish Cypriots as the side which did not want to reunite the island. The north was put under embargoes. Everyone knew the state would not be recognised. Worse still, the TRNC lost all potential to become an internationally recognised state, Ozuslu argues.
In April 2003, in a surprise move, President Rauf Denktaş opened the border, for the first time in decades. The Turkish Cypriots who owned a Republic of Cyprus passport were able to cross to the south and were able to enjoy the rights attached to RoC citizenship. Nevertheless, as a community, they still remained separate from the rest of the world, [despite promises by the EU that the embargoes would be eased].
However, following the 2004 Annan Plan referendum, where the majority of Turkish Cypriots (65%) voted in favour of reunification [which terms included the return of Kyrenia and Morphou and the gradual reduction of Turkish troops on the island] but where the Greek Cypriot majority (76%) voted against the plan, the general perception of the Turkish Cypriots changed, Ozuslu writes.
Meanwhile, Turkey has spent millions of Turkish Lira in the north to help supports its infrastructure. Despite many efforts, some using back channels, to acquire international recognition of the TRNC, the state still remains isolated and under embargoes.
Ozuslu said that all the while, Turkey has stood apart from all such issues related to Cyprus and has excluded the Turkish Cypriots from the world of diplomacy.
Consequently, Turkey and South Cyprus have arrived at a situation where they have official meetings over the heads of TRNC officials. Thus relegating the TRNC to “becoming a province of Turkey”, he writes.
Lately, no new financial protocol to support the TRNC has been forthcoming. In another article in Yeni Duzen, Deputy Prime Minister Kudret Ozersay, in an interview with the paper, was unable to say if and when the 2019-2022 financial protocol would be agreed.
Thus, Sami Ozuslu concludes that Turkey has abandoned its project in the TRNC.
He writes that the reason is obvious:
“The TRNC project has collapsed. And together with the world, even Turkey does not believe in this project. What will follow in its place? This is the basic question. There are basically two alternatives in my opinion. Either federation or integration. What is your preference?”, Ozuslu concludes.