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Moudouros: Dynamics of weakening of the Turkish Cypriots as an entity

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Moudouros: Dynamics of weakening of the Turkish Cypriots as an entity

Frixos Dalitis

The danger of annexation of the occupied territories by Turkey is always visible, especially if we take into account the tendencies of a “de facto annexation” that are strengthened in periods of negotiation vacuum, points out the Lecturer, in the Department of Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies of the University of Cyprus, Nikos Moudouros.

He comments on the result of last Sunday's illegal elections in the occupied territories and the main axes that determined the result and records his estimates for the future of the Turkish Cypriots in relation to the policies of the current Turkish government. As he explains, for some years now the Turkish government has shown in various ways that it does not want to strengthen the Turkish Cypriots as a political actor. It refers to the danger of the possibility of a radical upset of social balances on the ground, something that will bring the power structures of Turkey more directly into Cyprus. On the contrary, as he states, the strengthening of the forces of the Turkish Cypriot opposition is at the same time a small rift in the geopolitical identity that Ankara wants to give to the Cypriot area.

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– How do you read the result of last Sunday's “elections” in the occupied territories? What it means;

– The result of the “elections” was affected as normal by the general political and economic destabilization of the last two years at least. He was also influenced by the new framework imposed by Turkey on the management of the occupied territories. Taking into account the aforementioned complex background of the “elections”, we can divide the result into three major axes that are of course not the only ones.

The first is the strong organizational situation of the National Unity Party and its almost complete identification with the power structures. In conditions of chaos and crisis, the conservatism of the large Turkish Cypriot right-wing party was further expressed by promoting the “stability or change” dilemma. The negative instincts of a large section of the community that focus on daily survival through the prefecture of power, seem to have worked to reproduce “stability” rather than an “unknown change”. At the same time, this party sought to present itself as Ankara's most credible partner and to expand its influence not so much on the Turkish Cypriot right, but much more on the right of a section of the settler population. The second axis is the stabilization of high abstention rates, which until recently was not characteristic of the politicization of the Turkish Cypriots.

Within a decade, the turnout at polling stations fell from more than 80% -85% to 58%. An important dimension of abstinence, however, is the simultaneous expression of two competing social tendencies. On the one hand, large sections of the Turkish Cypriot community are alienated from the structure of the division or do not want to be an active part of this political process. On the other hand, the politicization of the ballot box for a part of the settlers is intensifying. The second consecutive success of the Renaissance Party to enter the “parliament”, but much more its growing political discourse on the issues of cultural identity of the settlers and their experiences of marginalization by the Turkish Cypriots, are facts that deserve attention. If the tendency of the Turkish Cypriots to move away from political life is stabilized and the political role of the right among the settlers is strengthened, then in the future there will be serious upheavals in the social and political balances. Finally, the third axis is the significant increase in the percentages of the Republican Turkish Party, which seems to lead to the stabilization of two poles of power and a peculiar bipartisanship. The development of this axis, however, will depend on the course of all components of the Turkish Cypriot left.

– Last week, Ozdil Nami told “F” that the main criteria for “voting” were the Economy and the Cyprus issue. He also said that there is a feeling in the Turkish Cypriot community that at the moment there is no prospect of a solution and this affects the choices of the Turkish Cypriots. What is your opinion?

– The economy and the effects of the crisis introduced by Turkey in combination with the survival problems caused by the pandemic, were clearly decisive in the final result. In relation to the Cyprus issue, things are more complicated. As a matter of talks and as a matter of developments in the international arena, the Cyprus issue was hardly discussed at all. This negatively affected the forces supporting the federal solution. Because the lack of developments prevented these parties from promoting in the public space an alternative program of total change. That is, a program that integrates the daily existence of the Turkish Cypriots with their future as a Cypriot community. The Cyprus issue is at the core of the socio-economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community, its non-resolution is the basis that largely determines the daily life of the people. Therefore, the presence of diplomatic and political developments especially helps the parties that support the idea of reunification in the formation of more comprehensive political programs with a tangible indication of how the social development of the community will be with its integration into international law. On the contrary, in the absence of developments, the problem becomes exclusively a matter of better management of the “TRNC” and therefore a matter of managing the budget of Turkey. This is the point that in combination with the crisis situation favored the power mechanism of the National Unity Party. So, indeed, the continuation of the division and its transformation due to the colonialist way in which Ankara operates, is at the center of society. What was absent from the election campaign, perhaps for the first time so strongly, was the controversy over the issues that usually arise from the negotiations.

– How do you see the future of the Turkish Cypriot community in the new situation that is being created? The danger of attachment is for many now more visible than ever. What is your assessment?

– The danger of annexation is visible to many, as a result of which various circles of Turkish power are restoring this possibility more strongly than in the recent past. It is a fact that the annexation of the occupied territories remains an issue that is clearly influenced by international and regional balances which in turn reshape the framework of international law. It is affected at the same time by the political balances in Turkey, but also in the Turkish Cypriot community. We could therefore argue that the risk is there, especially given the tendencies of a “de facto annexation” that are amplified in times of bargaining. For some years now, the Turkish government has shown in various ways that it does not want to strengthen the Turkish Cypriots as a political actor. It questions even more strongly the prospect of the community gaining recognition as a subject of the Cypriot history itself. Many sections of the community are now treated as “foreign elements”, potentially traitors. For example, the political expressions of secularism and their Cypriot characteristics, become occasions for the imposition of policies that refer to the suppression of an “internal enemy”. In this sense, the non-resolution of the Cyprus problem opens up two negative dynamics. The dynamics of the weakening of the Turkish Cypriots as an autonomous political entity that has its own particular divisions and controversies. The dynamics of the “replacement” of the Turkish Cypriot political existence, with a “Turkish orientation” of the specifics sought by the current government in Ankara. The danger therefore lies in the possibility of a radical overthrow of social balances on the ground, something that will bring the power structures of Turkey more directly within Cyprus. On the contrary, the strengthening of the Turkish Cypriot opposition forces is at the same time a small rift in the geopolitical identity that Ankara wants to give to the Cypriot area.

– How do you explain the boycott movement in the occupied territories?

– The movement of boycotting the elections, sought to capitalize politically and ideologically on the growing alienation of the Turkish Cypriots, but also to further politicize the issue of overthrowing the hierarchical relations of the community with Turkey. It should be noted that the boycott of political processes is not unknown in the repertoire of the Turkish Cypriot social movement, especially after 1974. However, in the current situation it has not managed to gather international interest, something it did in the 1990s. to be an important political expression that demands in other ways than parliamentarism, the radical change of relations with Turkey and the expansion of cooperation with the Greek Cypriot community. What remains questionable is the degree of influence that the movement had, but also the general abstention in the formation of a “parliament” with the presence of 4 parties of the right. The answer to this question will emerge through the evaluation of results not at the general level, but at the local ballot box.

– Did it appear that there was intervention either in the same or to a lesser extent, as we saw done with the confrontation for the emergence of a new Turkish Cypriot leader?

– Comparing the intervention in the recent “parliamentary elections” with what happened in October 2020, one can easily conclude that it was smaller in size and clearly more subdued. However, in different ways, such as the visits of party staffs of the Turkish government, there was intervention. The difference in intensity is not unrelated to many facts, among which stands out the peak of the Turkish Cypriot reactions and the intensity with which the issue of Turkey's relations with the community is now being discussed.

– How do you see the situation in the occupied territories evolving in relation to the economic situation in Turkey and how much does it affect the daily life of the Turkish Cypriots?

– The current situation is extremely important in many ways, because it will largely determine the model of economic growth in Turkey. This opens a new big chapter for the situation in the occupied territories, both in terms of the economy and in terms of the political system. Historically, experience shows that due to the occupation, the different models of development of capitalism in Turkey – albeit with a time delay – were applied to the occupied territories, significantly changing the social and political balances. At the moment, the Erdogan government is trying to bring about changes in the way of economic growth, with a heavy burden on the domestic manufacturing and export industries. This orientation presupposes the stabilization of cheap labor, intensification of the control of the labor movement, but also a renewed state intervention, especially in the investment orientations of the private business sector. Of course, the completion of such a policy depends on many international and local factors, as well as on the outcome of the next elections in Turkey. But if the Erdogan government does insist on such a change, then it should be expected that the occupiers' economy will come under similar pressure. Extremely important issues such as the future of the Turkish Cypriot trade union movement, the framework of labor relations, but also the degree of Ankara's direct intervention in the economic structures of the occupied territories, are some of those that show the magnitude of the consequences.

– In relation to the Cyprus issue, do you think that the result affects or will affect the course of events? Regarding Varosi, what is your assessment for the next day?

– Although due to the parliamentary system operating in the occupied institutions there is no influence on the Turkish Cypriot leader, nevertheless the strong presence of the right in the executive power and in the “parliamentary balances” will not leave the Cyprus issue unaffected. Especially in a period of non-existence of substantial developments. Issues such as the implementation of the economic protocols, which in essence concern the entire social structure of the occupied territories and depend on the course of the economic integration of key sectors in Turkey, the next developments will be particularly important. In addition, the issues of naturalization and the change that is being attempted in the demographic change, are in the responsibilities of a political balance that does not express objections, given the presence of 4 parties of the right. The open issues of Varos and property in general can be included in the exact same context. In Varosi, the testing of a model of government with the direct presence of Turkish state institutions as the leader of the transformation that is being sought is currently underway. Possible completion of this model is expected to generally affect the direction that the Turkish government wants to impose. At least so far the chances are slipping towards the formation of a “government” that has accepted Ankara's broader plan for Varos. Something similar can apply to the property as a whole. One of the main directions of the National Unity Party was and remains the search for ways to “liberate” the Greek Cypriot property for new private investments. Therefore, the reproduction of the customer network is also linked to the political economy of the property, which remains a matter of strategic importance for the structure of the Turkish Cypriot community. Finally, the underground debate on the possibility of adopting the presidential system is something that is also influenced by the balances created by the result of the “parliamentary”. In all the aforementioned issues, of course, the now stronger opposition party, namely the Republican Turkish Party, will play an important role in reshaping the ideological framework, as well as the alliances it will pursue on a number of issues.

Source: www.philenews.com

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