Greek Cyprus to grant Turkish Cypriots EP rights

The Greek Cypriot administration will lift restrictions on Turkish Cypriots participating in European Parliamentary elections.

Greek Cyprus to grant Turkish Cypriots EP rights

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Greek Cypriot administration of South Cyprus is preparing to allow native Turkish Cypriots the right to participate in the European Parliamentary elections.

Although these plans do not include giving Turkish Cypriots the right to vote in local and general elections, the decision to allow them to participate in the European Parliamentary elections is considered by many to be an important statement to Europe.

Last week Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded sharply to a question about the representation of Turkish Cypriots while on a visit to Brussels for negotiations with the European Union. While European Union officials told reporters at a press conference that the Greek Cypriot administration was the sole representative of the people of Cyprus, Erdogan responded "The South side cannot represent Northern Cyprus," adding "If they had this kind of authority, then why are these negotiations being held? Since these negotiations are being held, neglecting the Turks of Northern Cyprus and portraying the South as the representatives of the whole island is contrary to international standards of justice."

However, this move by the Greek Cypriot administration is an attempt to portray themselves as the representative government of the Turkish Cypriot people in a bid to undermine the legitimacy of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is recognized only by Turkey.

Despite both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot representatives agreeing to the Cyprus constitution of 1960, which paved the way for independence from British colonialism, Turkish Cypriots were banished from parliament within just three years. The years between 1963-1974 saw a number of attacks against the Turkish Cypriot people by far-right Greek militia EOKA. When EOKA conducted a coup against the constitutional government in 1974, Turkey exercised its constitutional right as a guarantor of peace, sent its troops to the north of the island and separated the warring communities, with Turkish Cypriots fleeing north and Greek Cypriots fleeing south.

The TRNC declared its independence in 1983 after nine years of failed peace talks with the Greek Cypriot administration, which had failed to guarantee Turkish Cypriots their constitutional rights, but none besides Turkey recognized its independence. Nonetheless, peace talks to reunite the island continued, culminating in the 2004 Annan Plan referendum. Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of reuniting the island, whereas Greek Cypriots rejected the plan.

Following the referendum, Cyprus was accepted into the European Union under the recognized Greek Cypriot administration's representation, with the EU failing to keep its promises of granting recognition to the TRNC if Turkish Cypriots voted ‘yes’ and Greek Cypriots voted ‘no’. Even though the border between the TRNC and the Greek Cypriot-controlled south was opened after 30 years of closure, only native Turkish Cypriots were allowed to cross it. In doing so, approximately 100,000 native Turkish Cypriots applied for and were granted EU passports by the Greek Cypriot administration, a privilege that Turks who moved to the TRNC from Turkey after 1974 are not entitled to.

As a result, most native Turkish Cypriots today possess citizenship for both the TRNC and the Greek Cypriot administration. As citizens of the Greek Cypriot administration, they are by EU law entitled to two of the six seats allocated to Cyprus in the European Parliament and are able retain all the rights issued by the Greek Cypriot administration to its citizens.

Sener Levent, the editor of the Turkish Cypriot ‘Afrika’ newspaper, has put himself forward as a candidate for one of these two seats, saying ‘My candidacy and my election will prove how much the Greek Cypriot people trust the Turkish Cypriots. I will be a voice for the Turkish Cypriot people in the European Parliament, which will ensure that wrong interpretations about the solution process are lifted and that Turkish Cypriots are understood better.’

Last Mod: 25 Ocak 2014, 11:57
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