Spoken in Turkish with Greek subtitles - Secretary General of the KTOS Turkish Cypriot Teachers' Union Şener Elcil provided a retrospective analysis about the massive demonstrations by Turkish Cypriots against Turkey's policies on Cyprus, explained the existence of plans for further demonstrations in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, possibly on 25.03.2011, and also outlined the existence of plans for future actions at the European Union.
CyBC bi-lingual program, Biz Emeis 15/03/2011.
"Another massive Turkish Cypriot demonstration 02.03.2011 - a blow to Turkey"
"The ‘problem of Turkey’ in Cyprus by LEVENT KÖKER"
Translation of the interview in the video above into English was made from the Greek subtitles:
Introductions: In the studio today we have a very significant guest, Mr Şener Elcil, Secretary General of the Turkish Cypriot Teachers Union KTOS who will be talking with our journalists Christodoulos and Huseyin about the events which are taking place in the north in relation to the demonstrations about existence and survival of the Turkish Cypriot community
(Huseyin) At the demonstration on 28th January the Turkish Cypriots had filled Inonu Square near the Kyrenia Gate. During the demonstration of 2nd March the Square was spilling over with people, thus giving the best possible answer to those who spoke about the Turkish Cypriots as a "handfull of people". In order to assess that demonstration and what has followed we now have with us the General Secretary of KTOS, Mr Şener Elcil.
How do you assess the demonstration?
(SE) The second demonstration about existence and social survival of the Turkish Cypriot community was held on 2nd March and in our estimation there was more enthusiasm with more people participating in it and it was of a better quality than the first one (on January 28th). The slogans, banners and speeches were, I believe, more impressive. In the time which has passed since then there has been no reaction from the Turkish government. On the contrary we see a rhetoric developing that allegedly the organisers of the demonstration do not have any preconceptions against Turkey's policies. Beyond that, the other day there was in the south, in Anatolia near Anamur, a ceremony during which the foundation stone was laid for the Alakioprou Dam. This was not a chance happening, it happened in a planned way. During this ceremony Mr Erdogan and the officials of his government made statements praising the Turkish Cypriot community. This shows that in contrast to the first demonstration, they now approach the situation in a more mature and careful manner, trying to show the actions of the Turkish Cypriots in a positive light. They had invited officials of our leadership to Turkey for closed-door meetings on what measures should be taken to extinguish the fire which had been lit.
With reference to the demonstration, we did not have any problems. The demonstration took place in a very mature fashion. We are democratic organisations and we want to continue our struggle to the end in a completely democratic framework. If however our officials and also the government of Turkey ignore this time also the reactions of the Turkish Cypriots by the end of these mobilisations it will no longer be possible to prevent the outbreak of public rage. The reason I say this is that we react individually to something which is expected of the other side to take into account our reactions. Speaking about large totals, and this is the meaning of democracy - the people are called out into the squares for a demonstration or a rally. If the other side continues to behave as if there is no problem, that is when a problem arises. Consequently, in subsequent mobilisations, if the same mentality prevails, if the peoples' reaction continues to be ignored, then people will not tolerate it and we will not be able to hold back the peoples' reactions. People are really full of anger, but the other side does not take this reaction on board.
(Christodoulos) Before the 2nd and larger demonstration which took place on 2nd March there had been threatening statements and reactions by Turkey, and specifically by Mr Erdogan. It seems as if these created a boomerang effect. These threats, these harsh statements he made resulted in half the population attending the demonstration which happened. As you now told us, Turkey is trying with a different approach - you told us about the transportation of water etc - is he trying with his statements to throw ash in the eyes of the Turkish Cypriots? In some way to calm them down, to placate them in order to stop them going out onto the streets?
(SE) That is a correct appraisal. An effort is being made to downgrade this reaction. In our opinion they will take some initiatives of an economic nature, such as to bring water from Turkey. They will take certain measures to relax somewhat the measures they are imposing. The aim is to reduce this political reaction. Besides, they have from the start adopted the rhetoric that this was an economic and not a political reaction which was being put forward by the Turkish Cypriots. This was not a correct rhetoric. Consequently the tactics being followed are intended to put out the fire which was lit and to deflect the reaction by the Turkish Cypriots. That is what they will pursue and that is why they have followed these tactics from the start. In other words they developed the rhetoric that this was all about a marginal group, that the largest part of the Turkish Cypriot community do not think in this way, that allegedly the Turkish Cypriot community thinks differently. These tactics hark back to the mentality of divide and rule as it had been implemented by the British. As helpers of the British, they use the same methods.
The packages involved and the political impositions are still in force, and nothing has changed. They tricked us during the decades of the 50s, 60s, 70s ... they did the same during the decades of the 80s, 90s and 2000 with the Annan Plan and the procedure which followed. Now again they are trying to fool us. We believe that the majority of the people see this. The Turkish Cypriots in the north have ended up being a minority in our own home. We know the real aim of Turkey and of the Turkish leadership. We know they are implementing the policy of absorbing us and assimilating us. That is why there has been the uprising by the community which is now waiting.
The trade union platform will brief the community in the next few days about the strategy we will follow.
(Huseyin) Whom are the messages which were delivered during the demonstration aimed at? There are many contentions regarding this.
(SE) We prepared an announcement which consistes of 13 points. These contain all our demands. The primary aim involves our self-governance. We do not want to be hostages of Turkey. This is crystal clear. Secondly, we demand a solution based on the resolutions of the United Nations. We want a bizonal bicommunal solution. Let us talk about practical matters - we in the north have been reduced to a minority. We demand that there should urgently take place a population census in the north with the presence of foreign observers. We do not know what our total population is, and so there must be a count. When we get the final figures there will then need to be a proper regulation of the fields of education, health and other sectors. The most important message we wish to convey through the demonstration consists of two aspects: the one is that we want our self-governance, and the second is that we want a solution based on federation as soon as possible.
(Huseyin) What will follow now? You have given leeway until 25th March. What will happen after that? Will this movement also find expression in the 'Parliament'?
(SE) We continue our demonstrations. The strikes in the "courts" and other "authorities" have been continuing for over 50 days now. At 12 today there is a meeting of the platform to decide whether the strikes will be extended to the electricity authority. In the coming days the north may be plunged into darkness. The day we had our demonstration "the government" took the decision that they will continue with the privatisations. This means they completely ignored the demonstration. This means they have not taken on board the demands of the people. As a result it is inevitable that the platform will organise a further demonstration. The platform will decide whether the schools will support the demonstration. We will however continue our demonstrations until 25th March. If by then "the government" does not withdraw the packages, or does not resign, then the measures will be stepped up. An issue will also arise about whether there should be more mass demonstrations in front of the building of the " Parliament".
We are also considering transferring our demonstrations to the international level. We are in process of organising meetings at the end of this month with institutions of the European Union, firstly with the Enlargement Commissioner, the President of the European Parliament and the Education Commissioner. We are also planning a demonstration outside the European Parliament to protest Turkey's policies on Cyprus. We are making relevant enquiries in order to obtain permission for this demonstration. We are also arranging meetings with representatives of the parties at the European Parliament - with the social democrats, the conservatives of the European People's Party, the left wing and the greens. We want to have demonstrations in Europe because since 2004 Cyprus has become EU territory. In the north the European Acquis Communautaire does not apply and is suspended. We Turkish Cypriots are however European citizens of the Union. It is not acceptable for the European Union to be ignoring our existence and to allow our destruction consequent to the policies being pursued by Turkey on Cyprus. Among our demands is that the Acquis Communautaire should apply in the north and for Europe to play an effective role because we also are European citizens. If we consider the north to be European territory, then the European Union must protect us through their mechanisms. If however they do not consider us to be European territory let them say that to us clearly and we will then have to consider what we will do. We will place these matters on the agenda at our own demonstrations which will continue.
(Huseyin) What was the morale of the people you spoke to, after the demonstration?
(SE) People continue to show their reactions. If we call on the people again, they will come. If their reaction however is ignored by the officials who continue to act with an attitude of 'we are doing the right things and we will continue' the reaction and rage of the people will be greater. It will not be possible for us then to hold them back. This is what we are trying to stress. It is constructive when democratic organisations convey their reactions through democratic means. If however there is not mutuality, then there comes a moment when the reaction exceeds democratic confines. That is what we are seeing happening nowadays in Egypt, Libya, in Tunisia and in all the Arab world. This reaction is caused when the leaders refuse to hear the voice of the people and insist on doing their own thing. Here we have a similar situation and we are facing a similar situation. Apathy to the reaction of the people causes even bigger reactions.
(Charalambos) Another very relevant factor in my opinion, is that at the same time there have been similar demonstrations also happening abroad, by Turkish Cypriots. This is a development which, in my opinion the platform itself did not adequately use. I consider this a very positive element - something which I feel, I may be wrong on this, something which in my opinion could have been used much more by the platform itself - there were demonstrations in Turkey itself, in England. A development which the platform could have exploited better.
(SE) With the exception of 'the south' in Cyprus, demonstrations did take place by Turkish Cypriots in Turkey, in London, and in other places. There were demonstrations, press releases were sent to the media. If we do want a solution in Cyprus, if we really do want a federation, then it is not only the Turkish Cypriots who should be taking to the streets. When 70,000 people out of a total of 130,000 take to the streets this creates a world record. In Egypt there are 80 million people and only 1 million people took part in the demonstrations. In other words, one in 80. While among 130,000 Turkish Cypriots there were 70,000 who took to the streets. What is very significant for us is that voices should be raised in favour of a solution, for the reunification of the island, the desire for a federation and a solution on the basis of the parametres of the United Nations. That is what we expect the Greek Cypriots to do. If they stand at our side we believe a much stronger message will be provided in favour of a solution.
At this point I would like to tell you that the dependence of the Turkish Cypriots constitutes a mistake on the part of the Greek Cypriots. As long as we are isolated by the administration, as long as we have difficulties in exrecising some of our rights as citizens then the more dependent we become on Turkey. It is a situation we have been experiencing from 1963 until today. So I would also like to pass a message to the Greek Cypriot community. They must accept us as politically equal Cypriots.
(Chistodoulos) We agree on this entirely, and I clarify this point and stress that I agree entirely by saying that the Greek Cypriots must stand by the Turkish Cypriots in a more dynamic way. I would however like to ask my friend Şener a question - how could they, or how would you Turkish Cypriots want the Greek Cypriots to mobilise themselves? What is that which would make you say "Bravo, now we feel good because the Greek Cypriots are at our side"? What is the message you would like to send out, through this program if you like, to the Greek Cypriots that "we want you to do this for us"? For this country, not just for us?
(SE) Until 2004, during the period of the Annan plan, we had five large demonstrations. Our basic aim was to achieve a solution of the Cyprus problem, a federal solution and the accession of the whole of Cyprus to the European Union. During that period there was no reaction on the part of the Greek Cypriot side. There was no mass demonstration. At this time we in the north are trying to achieve, as soon as possible, a federal solution. Our demonstrations are fundamentally taking place for political and not economic reasons.
In our area it is the politics which create the economy. In this country it is the politics and the solution which determine the future. The economy depends on these. When we raise our voices in the north, when we mobilise tens of thousands of people in our squares, a simultaneous reaction in the south would give us more strength. This would show the whole world that the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots want the reunification of our island, that we don't want armies and armaments on the island. That we don't want to have armies and armaments on the island. That we want to abilish the borders. That we want to live together in brotherhood on this island. These are for us significant messages.
So that I am not misunderstood, I am not asking of the Greek Cypriots that they should participate in our mobilisations. In any case, Erdogan is trying to throw mud at us saying that the Greek Cypriots are funding us and that they are taking part in our demonstrations and that that is why they are so massive.
What we are saying is that in order for there to be a solution there must be an uprising on both sides. One nice proverb says: the dove of peace can not fly on one wing. It needs two wings. If the Turkish Cypriots are one wing the other wing is the Greek Cypriots. We have to fly this bird together. This is the message I wish to convey.
On the contrary I see that in the south they are involved in the elections. The electioneering dominates the atmosphere. The elections will come and go, but they will always be there. This is a process which harms all of Cyprus.
(Huseyin) If there were no elections now, do you believe that what you are saying could happen? Do you believe something like that could happen? Lets talk openly. You have contacts with the Greek Cypriot unions ... what answer do you get from them?
(SE) The Greek Cypriot unions are detached from politics. We see that they maintain strong relations with the political parties and they are involved in politics under the guidance of the political parties. Things are different in the Turkish Cypriot community. We as unions have our own decision making mechanisms and we have our effect on the political parties. So it is not the political parties which determine the policies.
(Huseyin) This is apparent. The political parties follow the trade union platform.
(SE) With the political parties getting the votes and entering parliament nothing changes. The Cyprus problem will continue to exist. As long as the Cyprus problem exists all Cypriots will continue to suffer. The Cyprus problem must be solved as soon as possible for the wound to heal.
(Christodoulos) As we only have a few minutes left, I would like us to end with a message for the Greek Cypriots but also the Turkish Cypriots.
(SE) I believe that the Turkish Cypriot community is carrying out its duty. As unions we continue in a determined fashion to guide the Turkish Cypriot community towards peace and towards a solution and to cultivate the perception of our own ability to govern ourselves. The Greek Cypriot community must give the messages that would help us. When we, for example are involved in a demonstration, a mass demonstration in the south would be a great support to us. Something like that would show that all Cypriots want a federal solution and that they want to live together in brotherhood. For something like that to happen all the social partners, the society of citizens, the unions, the political parties must set up a common goal. They must put aside the competitiveness and work in the same direction. Our basic problem is the existence of the Cyprus problem. The solution will be of benefit to all Cypriots.
(Christodoulos) We hope everything will go very well. The Greek Cypriots must indeed stand more dynamically at the side of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots ... and I will say something else, even though I don't know how this will sound and how it will be understood ... if certain Greek Cypriots show the same passion as they do about the issue of immigration and of the foreigners, whom they want to get rid of for their own political reasons ... if they showed half of that passion for a true reconciliation then everything would be much better in this country. Many thanks.
(Huseyin) Many thanks. Are you planning any demonstrations for the 25th of March?
(SE) At this time we are still at the planning stage. There is transparency regarding the demonstrations which we have organised. People are informed accordingly. We do not intend to take decisions behind closed doors. We walk together with the people. The people will always be kept informed. Through the mass media you can all remain informed about everything.
(Huseyin) Thank you.
(Christodoulos) And this programme is always at your side. Many thanks.
"Sener Elcil - UN and EU officials turn blind eye to Turkey's settler policy in Cyprus"
Translation into English of CyBC 'Biz Emeis' bilingual program on 16/09/2010 of an interview with General Secretary of KTOS Sener Elcil. Mr Elcil is also a member of the Executive Committee of ETUCE (European Trade Union Committee for Education) and is a founder member of "This Country is Ours" Movement in Cyprus.
the English translation of an Interview (17th May 2010) 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.
"Izzet Izcan - Turkey threatens Cypriots with annihilation"