Monday, 24 May 2010

Izzet Izcan - Turkey threatens Cypriots with annihilation

Interview with Izzet Izcan, Secretary General of the Turkish Cypriot political party "United Cyprus", about the outcome of the 'elections' in Turkish-occupied Cyprus in April 2010 which resulted in Dervis Eroglu taking over leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community from Mehmet Ali Talat, the political situation in Cyprus and prospects for the intercommunal talks which recommence on 26th May.

Broadcast on 17th May 2010 by CyBC TV Biz Emeis program, providing bilingual items in Turkish in Greek

(With English subtitles, and transcript below, as translated from the Greek subtitles)

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(The clips embedded below are the clips detailed above, spoken in Turkish, with subtitles in English)

Original version:

(Spoken in Turkish, with Greek subtitles)

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(Huseyin Halil) Dear viewers, good evening.

On 26th May the talks begin again to find a solution to the Cyprus Problem. In order to assess the process and assess the upcoming developments we have with us today the General Secretary of the United Cyprus Party, Mr Izzet Izcan.

Welcome Mr Izcan.

The new leader of the Turkish Cypriot community is Eroglu. Why did Talat lose, or, why did Eroglu win?

Your party supported Talat.

Let us begin by assessing this outcome.

(Christodoulos Christodoulou) Was it that Talat lost or was it that Eroglu won?

(Izzet Izcan) (Laughs) Talat basically lost, but those who lost are the Turkish Cypriot community.

Talat had been brought to power with our support, as also that of all the other democratic elements, with the purpose of achieving our aim as soon as possible, which was a solution of the Cyprus problem. However, in these four or five years, Talat had considerably dissapointed the Turkish Cypriot community in terms of pursuing a consistent policy. At times he made good statements, at other times he talked as if he was a spokesman for the AKP, Erdogan's party, in the north of Cyprus. To this is added the failure in the economic and also in domestic policies of his own party's CTP Government, the party from which Talat had originated.

The conservative forces, namely those who support maintaining the status-quo and who wish to see the creation of two separate states in Cyprus, such as Eroglu, Denktash, and other fanatic nationalist parties with the support of the Deep State in Turkey, the military and their representatives here had organised themselves and carried out a psychological war. At the end of this campaign they cultivated despair in the Turkish Cypriot community which saw its aspirations not coming to fruition, and the talks did not lead to the desired outcome.

There had been great expectations of the European Union and the world beyond, something which had been raised by Talat himself. But these expectations were not realised.

The forces which oppose a European solution and a reunification of Cyprus exploited these failures to conduct a very intensive campaign.

Another significant contributory factor was the disruption of Talat's relations with those forces which supported a solution. He clashed with the educational unions, the medical unions, those of civil servants who prior to the referendum had created the 'This Country is Ours' platform and those people who had said yes during the referendum.

Can you imagine a political leadership which conflicts with that section of society from which it derives its power?

(Christodoulos Christodoulou) Just to continue your thought a little, that he came into conflict with those people who had pioneered the movement to bring about better days, and had struggled for the reunification of the country .... and as if this is not enough, and if I am mistaken please do correct me ... and if he maintained a negative position towards you which may have even boomeranged on him, particularly when he gave to many of the [Turkish-mainland] settlers the right to vote. This had a boomerang effect, because as is known the largest proportion of settlers voted for Eroglu.

(Izzet Izcan) Correct.

We will also talk more about this matter later.

I have also raised this matter during meetings which I had at the European Parliament. We are faced with the following situation - the CTP 'Government' unfortunately approved the 'Immigration Law'. We did whatever we could to stop this 'law' being passed. They cooperated with the UBP and the Democracy Party and they passed this 'law'. As a result, there was a frightening increase in immigrants from Turkey. There was an increase of the order of 200,000 with the excuse that we would give them a 'legal status' and that they will then be registered. The applications for 'naturalisation' also increased.

I am not a racist - as leftwingers we love people and we don't discriminate based on identity and their origins.

As a result of this however there has been in Cyprus a dilution of our will.

During the referendum in 2004, 25% of the settlers voted no. At the next 'elections' the majority of them gave their support to Eroglu and in the last elections the CTP did not manage to get votes from this section, despite all it had done [for them].

One way or another they certainly did not vote for us.

In the 'presidential elections' the outcome was determined by the 'voters' in Famagusta, in the Karpas and in Tricomo. If we were to exclude the 12 areas where the main residents are settlers, then Talat would have won, with a majority of 53%.

Certain circles get angry when we talk about this, but the reality is that the point we have reached is that the Turkish Cypriots are a minority in the north. Until now we have been saying that the Turkish Cypriots will become a minority. Now we say that we are already a minority.

There is a lack of will - our view on the Cyprus problem, our aim for a solution, the love we feel for this country, the desire for a solution and reunification is not something which these people identify with, or at least a large section of them. Yes, a section of them may support us.

With how many 'votes' did Eroglu win in 'the elections'? With a difference of 400 'votes'! How many 'citizenships' were given to them in the last year? 1600! How many 'citizenships' are ready and waiting at this time? 6,500!

If this process continues in the same way we will not in future be able to talk about 'democratic elections' in the north, but nor about the will.

All these reasons, but also the friendly behaviour towards us ... look, despite these reasons and suppressing our feelings, having in mind the dislike for our party, we decided to act based on the logic of supporting Talat since we love this country, we want the continuation of the talks and we must keep this window open. But our support was not sufficient.

During this time, Talat had made another mistake. The way he approached the Greek Cypriot community did not help him at all. As Denktash had done, Talat constantly presented the Greek Cypriot community as 'the others'. The whole community actually, indiscriminately. Even in the criticism which he made through his repsentatives, in some of which cases he may have been right, he converted the entire matter into his propaganda about 'them and us'. This contributed to a flaring up of nationalism in the Turkish Cypriot community, of anger, and traditionally leftist voters and supporters of a solution were filled with doubts.

Our 'electorate' is 164 thousand. Of these Eroglu received 61 thousand. 103 thousand 'voters' either did not vote for Eroglu, or stayed at home. 38 thousand 'voters' did not go 'to vote'. A significantly greater part of these 'voters' belong to the democratic left and to the scholars.

When we assess all these things we see the magnitude of the despair in the Turkish Cypriot community.

Naturally, the progress which happened in the talks was not satisfactory. We could have had, and there should have been, more progress. This also caused an extra negative reaction, and so we reached this outcome.

Turkish with English subtitles: Clip 1:

Turkish with Greek subtitles: Clip 1:

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(Huseyin Halil) But Eroglu basically did not get the result he wanted.

(Izzet Izcan) Eroglu is saying that he got 50% plus of the votes. This however does not correspond to the truth.

He received 61,000 of the 164,000 of 'votes'. This corresponds to 35 to 40%. Despite everything, Talat was supported by 43% of the community. 25% of the 'electorate' stayed away from 'the elections' and that is how this result has come about. We must bear in mind all these things.

What is right at this time is for those of us who believe in a solution and peace, and who love this country, as much in the south as in the north, in [the mountains of] Troodos [in the south] and the same with those in [the mountains of] Pendadaktylos [in the north], in Limassol, in Kyrenia. We must be united and march together and to support the bicommunal talks.

(Christodoulos Christodoulou) - yes, indeed , we must see what will happen in the future....

(Huseyin Halil) Before we go to that matter, lets take a look at something else. You were recently in Brussles where you were involved in a singificant visit. Please tell us about this, and then we can look at what future action is needed.

(Izzet Izcan) I went to Brussels as the guest of the left group in the European Parliament. The item on the agenda was the Cyprus problem and future developments, and we were asked to talk about and discuss this during the meeting of the European Parliament. We were with the Secretary General of the AKEL Party, Mr Andros Kyprianou, who was to present the views of AKEL.

The President of the left group, Mr Bisky, made the introductions and we then discussed the Cyprus problem. The matter which I raised during the discussion was the population [settler] policy. This caused intense reactions in the north and the attacks against our party continue to this day.

I had said that the Turkish Cypriot community has been led to extinction and that in the longer term they will also destroy the Greek Cypriot community.

If this situation continues in the future, in ten years time when the population in the north could for example reach one million, how easy do you think it will be to reach a solution? How easy will it be to achieve a compromise between the two sides? That is what I tried to explain to them.

I analysed the 'outcome of the elections' for them. The MEPs were also asking me what you asked me. Why did this result come about? What should happen, what went wrong?

I explained all these things.

I personally asked the European Parliament to conduct a population census in the north, in the presence of international observers. I asked that in addition to the census they should help in the creation of an investigative committee which would examine the policy of naturalisation and put an end to this process.

I asked them the following:

Are we, as Turkish Cypriots, European citizens? They answered me with a yes.

According to the Protocol, the north constitutes European territory? They answered yes.

Are we therefore your citizens?

It is the whole of Cyprus which territorially belongs to the European Union.

There is a violation of human rights.

We have reached a time when the Turkish Cypriots are facing annihilation. The identity, the culture and its very existence.

Do you have no responsibility, no authority?

Will you continue to be spectators?

Will our annihilation affect negatively the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, and put in danger the whole of Cyprus?

We placed all these matters on the table.

They were very angry with this because we demolished certain stereotypes, we went outside the confines of the official policy. We will continue to do this.

In a television program I took part in a few days ago in the north I explained that we are doing what we are doing because we love Cyprus, we have respect for Turkish Cypriots and we want to unite all of Cyprus. But if the existing situation continues, and if the opponents of the solution continue their attacks, and I see with sorrow that in the south the government and AKEL, and Christofias, are being attacked by the conservatives as I call those who benefit from the continuation of the existing situation ... they demand the immediate withdrawal of the proposal for a rotating presidency, for a weighted vote. Note that those are the same things wanted by the nationalists on the Turkish Cypriot side. They also do not accept.

There is therefore an unholy alliance between the opponents of a solution on both sides.

We must oppose this and overturn this.

(Huseyin Halil) What did the Europeans answer you?

(Izzet Izcan) As far as I could determine, the Europeans are saying the following:
"You the Cypriots will solve the problem, if you take steps towards a solution we will support you".

That is what they say. I countered to them with the following:

"This situation does not concern only the two communities, it is an international problem".

Present at the meeting, along with the Europeans, were representatives of the Republic of Turkey and representatives from the north. I asked them not to victimise Cyprus during Turkey's accession process. To not allow Turkey to use the Turkish Cypriots and Cyprus in its accession negotiations.

We support Turkey's European prospects. But Turkey must fulfill its obligations, and Europe must decide whether it will accept it.

Let them not use us because we are a separate state.

We in Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots want to live in brotherhood and peacefully with our neighbours. But here there is an injustice and the European Union has its own duties and responsibilities in this.

We placed all these issues on the table. I believe that it was necessary for us to say all these things.

What do I ask of Cypriots, irrespective of their background ... is for us not to see each other as enemies. We are no one's enemies. We are simply victims of this tragedy. All of us. There are 180 thousand Greek Cypriot refugees. They have abandoned their homes and fled to the south. There are thousands of missing people. There are people who have lost their loved ones and who are still suffering.

We must all remember that neither the coup by the Greek junta, nor the Turkish invasion have solved the problem. They have not lessened the pain in Cyprus. On the contrary they have further complicated the situation and we have been relegated to being a small part of the whole problem.

All us Cypriots must understand this. We must help each other and to unite their energies to find a solution.

What form will this solution have?

The United Nations Security Council has presented the parameters of a solution, the agreements of July and May show this clearly: Bizonal Bicommunal Federation on the basis of political equality, but ensuring a single citizenship, single sovereignty and territorial integrity. The way we will arrive at this solution is through negotiation.

Can there be an ideal solution?

The answer is No. We can only achieve the feasible, and that which is feasible we must find jointly.

But, if the other side insists wanting to discuss on the basis of two states, two separate nations and two separate peoples, while on the other side in the name of patriotism certain members of the National Council continue to insist that there can not be a Turkish Cypriot president, that they do not accept weighted voting, that too many concessions have been made and that these should be withdrawn - I see that as Cyprus we will have big problems.

(Huseyin Halil) we would now like your views about the process of the talks. The talks begin again on 26th May. Do you think there will be changes to the positions of the two sides?

(Izzet Izcan) For the last 5 years, since the referendum, the AKP has followed a strategic and tactically realistic policy. This policy envisaged that Turkey would remain one step ahead.

However this is not a policy to find a speedy solution. There is no such thing as a speedy solution of the problem. We will remain one step ahead and we will expose the Greek Cyprioit side, they said. They did this successfully until Mr Christofias came to power. The balance has changed.

With the correct policy, the policy of one-step-ahead can be exposed. However, what we need is not being steps ahead, but a solution.

Can Mr Eroglu escape from the policy established by Ankara?

The answer is no.

We however know very well that Mr Eroglu fundamentally wants a confederal solution and two separate states which would be in accordance with the founding document of his Party.

What he will try to do is to gain time. He will continue the talks and try to gain time so that Turkey's accession negotiations can continue unhindered.

Spoken in Turkish with subtitles in Ebglish: clip2

Spoken in Turkish with subtitles in Greek: clip 2

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(Christodoulos Christodoulou) To what extent can Turkey impose its views on Eroglu? To impose its positions?

(Izzet Izcan) It can impose its will.

Turkey is a big and powerful country and it has great influence in the north. It has 40 thousand troops, it controls the north economically and it has hundreds of thousands of Turkish citizens in the north. Turkey can impose its positions.

Eroglu dared try to oppose Turkey during the referendum and he paid a heavy price.

What Eroglu will do now is to appear conciliatory, to be at the negotiations table biding time and waiting for the Deep State and the opponents of the AKP to increase their power at the next elections in Turkey. That is why he has softened now and declares that he accepts the agreements which have already been achieved. He expresses disagreement only about the content of these agreements.
Consequently, it seems that this procedure will continue.

Except that we do not simply want the talks to continue, but for the discussion of the remaining chapters to be completed as soon as possible, and for the speeding up of the process so that a solution can be reached as soon as possible.

All Cypriots must understand this and we must all together contribute to achieving this, because time works works at the expense of Cyprus.

(Christodoulos Christodoulou) Exactly, and though We all know approximately, and you have outlined the positions which Eroglu is expected to follow in the negotiations, so, what hopes are there? Knowing his positions?

(Izzet Izcan) Mr Eroglu may be thinking of following such a policy, and Turkey may want him to follow such a policy, the question however is what do other parties in the game want? What do you want? What do those viewing us want? What does the Greek Cypriot side want? Do we really want a speedy solution to the Cyprus problem or are we just biding our time with the hope that we will achieve some 'ideal' solution?

(Christodoulos Christodoulou) The President of the Republic has shown he wants that which he said from the beginning, from the time two years ago when he was elected. He was very clear about what he wants, and that he really wants a solution. I don't know if you agree with me. Now, if there are certain other voices among the Greek Cypriots ... they are there, and you are quite right in what you say, but the official voice is that of the President of the Republic.

(Izzet Izcan) The President of the Republic has said that he wants a united Cyprus, that he wants a Federal solution.

In the three chapters, such as the chapter on governance and distribution of powers a large degree of convergence has been achieved.

However, I see what is happening now in the National Council. I hear what EDEK is saying, what EVROKO is saying and also DIKO which has not yet clarified the extent to which it is with the government as well as the contradictory statements by its Secretary General and of the President of DIKO ... also the double stand which DISY holds. We must talk about these things openly. At this moment the Greek Cypriot side does not present a united position.

(Huseyin Halil) In your meetings with party representatives have you confronted them, do you say these things to them openly?

(Izzet Izcan) We do say these things, and we express our discomfort. We are now used to these recordings. In the north we have seen many such. This introversion and backtracking is intended to influence public opinion and to achieve a benefit in some possible future electoral confrontation. All these things do not benefit Cyprus at all.

I would, with sorrow, at this time want to say the following ... if Mr Marios Garoyian has the right to be elected president of the repubic, if he is elected by the people, why should Izzet Izcan not also have this right? Why should you, or someone else not have this right? What do we gain if we convert this into a matter for debate?
Whom do we want in the presidency of the republic? Someone who believes in a united Cyprus, who loves our country, who will be the president of all Cypriots, who will not discriminate between people, who will serve Cyprus.

Who is it that is upset by 'weighted voting'?

I will be very happy if with weighted voting the Greek Cypriots get the right to determine by 20% our leader. Because I believe that the Greek Cypriots will contribute through their vote to the election of a democratic, progressive leader who loves our country. And we will do the same.

But who is it that react however? The Party of National Unity. Our nationalists and other such nationalists. No, they say, a Turkish Cypriot should not have a say in the election of the president.

We will get past these things. The world, Europe, have got past such things, and we will also.

We have to say openly - do we want peace or do we not want it?

We can not achieve peace by putting each-other down.

If we united our energies we can all win together. If we make this a tenet of our policy then our task will be much easier.

Otherwise Turkey will continue its accession process to the EU. However many years that may take. They themselves speak about 2023. Turkey is in no hurry. We must all understand this. That is how the problem will be perpetuated.

Do you believe that if the population [in the north] exceeds a million it will be easy for anyone to force them to leave?

Do you have the impression that if the exploitation of Greek Cypriot properties continues in the north, if there is investment on them, that the Europe of Capitalism will want any buildings demolished and the land given back to their owners?

Things will become even more difficult.

That is why it is significant for us to unite our energies to build a more beautiful country for all. We must help each other. To understand that we Cypriots are brothers, we are the true owners of this country. As far as the problem is concerned, it is not us. There may be some problems between us, but we must understand that it is an international problem.

(Huseyin Halil) We have come to the end of our time.

(Izzet Izcan) Thank you.

I continue to be optimistic. We must not lose our morale. It is the duty of us all together to unite our country as a free, independent, sovereign federation so we can secure a better tomorrow for our children. But if the confrontation between us continues, we will all be lost together.

(Christodoulos Christodoulou) Holding onto that message, we thank you very much for having been with us today.

(Izzet Izcan) I thank you.

Spoken in Turkish with subtitles in English: clip 3

Spoken in Turkish with subtitles in Greek: clip 3


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