Tuesday, June 27, 2017


In the “Special Issue: The Cyprus Problem” of the “In Depth” bimonthly Electronic Newsletter, published in February 2017, I dealt with the internal aspect of the Cyprus problem under the title “Uncertainties at the Cyprus negotiations.” In this issue, I shall point out the uncertainties about the external aspect, mainly the security and the guarantee issues in a possible agreement.

According to the new guarantee formula that the Greek Cypriot side has brought to the table, first 75% of Turkish troops will be withdrawn and the remaining 25% will be withdrawn within a predetermined time (e.g. 18 months) under UNFICYP supervision. (The Turkish Cypriot side did not accept this. They insist that the Turkish Cypriot constituent state, whenever it is needed, should have always the unilateral right of calling Turkey for intervention.)

Internal security was organized in three stages: First, there will be a police force at the constituent state level, comprising 60% Greek Cypriot and 40% Turkish Cypriot policemen, who will serve at their desks, i.e. 5,000 in the south and 3,100 in the north.

The second phase is at the federal level, with 500 police officers at a proportion of 50: 50%, units with the authority of using weapons would serve in emergency response and in federal criminal investigation bureau. The local police of the Turkish Cypriot state will ask for help from the federal government if it is difficult.

In the third stage, the UN Security Council will have an international police force of 2,500 people. This police force will provide personnel from the EU countries outside Greece and the UK and from third countries outside Turkey. This multinational police force to be formed immediately after the settlement will not interfere in any way with the internal arrangement of the United Cyprus and it will function for five years and will be placed on the border between the two constituent states, after the Turkish troops have withdrawn completely from the island. According to Article 6 of the UN Constitution, there will be only light weapons and no authority to interfere with conflicts.

The international police force will only be activated if there is a threat and international peace is in danger. This is a comment by the Security Council based on political criteria and interests and it requires a number of other measures, such as implementing the 7th Article, the economic embargo before the military measures and/or the sea and air bombings.

Great Britain and Greece, three of the NATO countries that guaranteed the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960, seem eager to give up their rights in the new era.

Greek Foreign Minister Kotzias made a proposal to sign a Treaty of Friendship and Stabilization between Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. Through this treaty, it was announced that safety valves could be added to various subjects.

Turkey, on the other hand, requires a structure, as in 1960, not only for the United Cyprus Republic, but also for the constituent states, in which the territorial integrity, security and constitutional order are guaranteed. Three Turkish formulas have been put forward regarding the guarantees:

1. A formula, in which NATO is involved,
2. The guarantee of a Turkish base within the Turkish Cypriot province and commanded by the Turkish commander,
3. The Turkish guarantor will remain for only the Turkish Cypriots after the settlement. In this regard, no agreement has yet been reached.

It is understood that Turkey's proposal is not to assure the physical security of the Turkish Cypriots or the implementation of the resolution, but rather to raise the geo-strategic demands of her own country. Although Turkey had leaked to the press that she wanted to limit her right to interfere with island’s internal affairs, only to the Turkish Cypriot province, but later Turkey wanted to keep a sovereign military base within the Turkish state to be formed in the northern part of the island. This would be commanded by a Turkish commander and its duration would not be fixed.

Turkish President Erdogan wanted to give the message that Turkey will always stay in Cyprus with guarantees and her troops, in a statement he gave immediately after the end of the five-party conference in Geneva in the middle of January 2017. Erdogan demanded that the closed territory of Famagusta be given to the Greek Cypriot side, while the territory of Kokkina and Morphou would be combined and given to the Turkish Cypriot side. "Do not wait for Karpasia and the shoreline" he added. This meant that the Pirgo-Dilliria regions would be given to the control of the constituent Turkish Cypriot state.

According to the Greek Cypriot press, the occupation army has recently developed facilities in the Kokkina region and the Republic of Cyprus also was asked for some facilities, but these requests were rejected. After this rejection, 250 concrete and other materials were transported by sea to this region. According to the evaluations made, this development of the region is related to the military base the Turkish side wants to establish in Cyprus in case of a solution. According to the Turkish proposal, this base will be sovereign and 2,500 troops will settle here.

It was described as "very serious", when Turkey demanded, especially during the discussions on the Cyprus issue, that the EU's 4 freedoms (free movement of people, goods, services and capital) should be granted to Turkish citizens and the Greek Cypriot side stated that it did not consider this demand to deal with Cyprus negotiations.

President Nicos Anastasiades sent a letter to the European Commission on January 30, 2017, saying that "Ankara made a blackmail with her demand for 4 freedoms" and, if recognized, "this will have very serious and unprecedented effects not only on Cyprus, but also on the EU and its member states".

The newspaper wrote that Anastasiades received positive responses from the European countries, saying that so far some EU member states were against to the granting of 4 freedoms to Turkish citizens and Bulgaria responded in the same way the day before.

The Fileleftheros newspaper, dated 4 April 2017, informed that a joint procedure of Washington, London, Brussels and the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide was being followed that the demand for the recognition of 4 freedoms would be recognized for the Turkish citizens after the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Under the title of "The US has 4 freedoms in the background", the Fileleftheros newspaper, based on the information it received, reported that the United States was included in the "game" of support for the request of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, through Jonathan Cohen, Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The newspaper claims that Cohen gave the EU the opinion that the Turkish request should be fulfilled and that Brussels does not oppose this view and that, based on the same information, he also claimed that the issue of equal treatment for the Turkish citizens was also on the agenda, whereas they are not aware of the rights the Greek citizens in Cyprus have acquired from the EU membership.

The newspaper also said that in case the EU demands, Cohen would be able to provide equal treatment for Turkish and Greek Citizens in Cyprus by "simulating exercises" through the combination of previously applied models, including "Kaliningrad" or "Portugal". He was also informed that preparations could be made for that. It has also been suggested that Brussels will act in a way that Cyprus will have a special status in the EU, in accordance with "previous models".

Regarding the free movement of goods, the newspaper claimed that Turkey is working on the combination of "Customs Union with the EU" and "Providing mutual facilities" between the Federal Republic of Cyprus and Ankara.

In its news comment on 5 March 2017, the Fileleftheros newspaper wrote under the title "EU: Four Freedom with the Portuguese-Brazilian Model" that there are hopes for the creation of a perspective for the resumption of the negotiations on the Cyprus issue, if the influential circles in Brussels examine the “similar examples” for the realization of the Turkish demands for 4 freedoms for her citizens in Cyprus.

The newspaper wrote that the influential circles worked on the example of Portugal, which provided the privileged treatment of the EU, before allowing it to join the EU, by granting work permits to workers from Brazil depending on the special relationship between the two countries.

The newspaper reported that there is a significant difference between the Portuguese example and the situation in Cyprus and that Portugal was not an EU member, when it demanded this privilege, whereas Cyprus has been an EU member state since 13 years.

After a blockage of the inter-communal negotiations, the Greek Cypriot press wrote that the UN has prepared some important bridging proposals between the external security aspect of the Cyprus problem and the internal constitutional aspect, like the rotating presidency. We shall be seeing the results, when the two leaders meet in New York.

(published in In Depth, Bimonthly Electronic Newsletter, Volume 14, Issue 3- June 2017, Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs,  University of Nicosia)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


The Cyprus problem has been the legacy of the British colonial “divide and rule” policy. When the British occupied the island in 1878, ending a 300-year period of Ottoman rule that had begun in 1571, the British preferred to keep the existing structures of education in Cyprus. The Christian Greek Cypriot and the Moslem Turkish Cypriot schools were kept separate from one another. There were two Boards of Education, which ensured that the curriculums of the two communities mirrored those in Greece and Turkey respectively. Thus the nationalism of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots did not originate from the local historical circumstances, but the nationalist ideas were imported to the island through the teachers, books and newspapers that came from Greece and Turkey. This nationalism was encouraged by the British colonial administration and the British tried to disseminate it among the unconscious masses of people in accordance to their traditional policy of ‘divide and rule’.
           Following the annexation of Cyprus by the British Empire in 1914, the new Republic of Turkey gave up all of her rights on Cyprus, when the Treaty of Lausanne was signed in 1923. This was confirmed in 1925, when Britain declared Cyprus as a Crown Colony – a status it retained until 1960.
The Communist Party of Cyprus, which was established in 1926, had a political programme of acquiring independence of the island and it was envisaged to become a part of the Socialist Balkan Federation. But after the nationalist rebellion of the Greek Cypriots in 1931, the British banned all the political activities and abolished the Legislative Council, where a Turkish Cypriot member voted together with the Greek Cypriot members some months ago.
             During the Second World War, the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots fought and served together, on the side of Great Britain, on various fronts and at home, they organised  themselves in the same trade unions against the difficult economic conditions. In 1941, the Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus (AKEL) was established and it adopted a policy for the union (enosis) of the island with Greece. This was the biggest obstacle for the cooperation with the Turkish Cypriots, who saw it as a danger to their existence.
            In 1955, the Greek Cypriots started a terror campaign against the British colonial administration with the final aim of union of the island with Greece. It was in 1955 that Turkey was made again a party to the Cyprus problem with the London Conference and in 1956 Turkey and the collaborationist Turkish Cypriot leadership adopted the British plans, which aimed at the partition of the island (taksim) as a political solution.
The Turkish Cypriot youth became auxiliary police and commandoes in order to fight against the Greek Cypriot fighters. When the Greek Cypriot underground organization, the EOKA, killed the Turkish Cypriot members of the security forces, the Turkish Cypriot underground organization, the TMT, began to kill the Greek Cypriots in retaliation.
Both organizations were anti-communist oriented and they killed also progressive Cypriots. The TMT killed in 1958 some members of the progressive Turkish Cypriot trade unions and forced the others to resign from the common trade unions, thus destroying the foundations of the common political struggle.
            At the end of the conflict, neither the Greek Cypriots’ aim for enosis, nor the Turkish Cypriots’ aim for taksim were materialized, but a limited independence was given to a new partnership Republic of Cyprus, which was established in 1960. The British maintained their sovereignty over the two military bases. Both enosis and taksim policies were banned in the constitution. The guarantors of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the new state were members of the NATO, i.e. Britain, Greece and Turkey and they did not want to see a Cypriot state, free of their influences.
            The Turkish Cypriots, having 18% of the island’s population, were given 30% share in the administration of the new Republic of Cyprus. This was not digested by the Greek Cypriots. Archbishop Makarios, the President of the Republic, did not believe in the idea of creating a new Cypriot nation. He told to an Italian newspaper that the London Agreements created a new state, but not a new nation. On the other hand, the Turkish Cypriot leadership did not believe in the new partnership Republic and continued its separatist policies.
Two Turkish Cypriot advocates, Ahmet Gurkan and Ayhan Hikmet, started to publish on the day of independence a weekly newspaper, called “Cumhuriyet” (The Republic), where they waged with other progressive Turkish Cypriots a struggle for the cooperation of the two main communities in Cyprus in the new state. For the first time, the ideas of Cypriotism were being propagated through an oppositional newspaper and later they established a political party. The writers of the “Cumhuriyet” newspaper were supporting the independence of Cyprus, condemning the aim of union of the island with another nation or state and they wanted that Cyprus should belong to its own people, the Cypriots. Unfortunately these staunch supporters of the Republic of Cyprus were killed by the TMT on 23 April 1962, on the pretext that they served the interests of the Greek Cypriots. In 1965, Dervish Ali Kavazoglu, who was a Turkish Cypriot member of the Central Committee of the AKEL, was murdered together with his Greek Cypriot trade-unionist friend. He was against the partitionist policies of the Turkish Cypriot leadership and for the friendship and cooperation of the two communities in Cyprus. These actions of intimidation silenced the democratic opposition within the Turkish Cypriot community.
In the 1960’s, contrary to the processes in Europe, many African and Asian states were formed before the consolidation of a nation. In the case of Cyprus, this fragile partnership lasted only three years. In December 1963, the President of the Republic, Archbishop Makarios tried to change the 13 points of the constitution by abolishing the veto power of the Turkish Cypriot Vice-President Dr. Kuchuk. The inter-communal clashes started and at the beginning of 1964, the Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the state apparatus. This conflict of nationalisms between the pro-union Greek Cypriot leadership and the pro-partition Turkish Cypriot leadership complicated the solution of the ethnic-national question in Cyprus. The unity of action and aim of the Cypriots could not be developed under a common shared aim and this was exploited by the imperialist powers.
            On 21 December 1963, inter-communal clashes started and the underground organizations, which had their connections with the foreign powers, became influential again in both communities. The Greek Cypriot leadership was aiming the union of the island with Greece and the Turkish Cypriot leadership was planning to create the conditions for the partition of the island. Now Cyprus problem was once again on the international arena.
            We read in a working paper, prepared by Donald A. Wehmeyer, a US legal adviser, on 11 December 1963 that a Treaty of Joint Sovereignty between Greece and Turkey was proposed. Wehmeyer added to his memorandum “Outline of Possible Cyprus Settlement” an important ingredient for a solution, which would be more attractive to Turkey: Cyprus should be divided into provinces. Certain provinces would be administered mainly by Turkish Cypriots and this would create an illusion of partition or federation. (Claude Nicolet, United States Policy Towards Cyprus, 1954-1974: Removing the Greek-Turkish Bone of Contention”, Germany, 2001, p.226 and 229)
Salahi R. Sonyel writes that the British government hit upon an interesting solution, which was the reconstruction of Cyprus as a federal solution:
“Thus on 3 January (1964), Sir Francis Vallat asked H.G.Darwin, a constitutional expert, to produce a paper examining the possibility of dividing Cyprus into a Turkish and a Greek area, which might be formed into a federal state. Even if such a plan was feasible a number of problems were foreseen in its application. Darwin composed a memorandum, in which he suggested a federation of two states, one predominantly of Greek, and the other of Turkish populations. He also suggested an exchange of population in order to realise the Turkish state. The capital of the Turkish state would be Kyrenia.” (Cyprus, The Destruction of a Republic and its Aftermath, British Document 1960-1974, Extended second edition, Ankara 2003, pp.78-78)
In the summer of 1964, Makarios rejected the Acheson Plan, which was discussed in Geneva and which envisaged the union of Cyprus with Greece on the condition that a military base would be given to Turkey in Karpas peninsula. President Makarios was re-elected in 1968 with his new policy of “feasible solution”, instead of enosis.
We read again from Nicolet’s book: “Acheson was fully indulging himself in studying the different proposals that had emerged in Washington throughout spring of 1964. In Brands’ words, “he was ready to devise a plan that would eliminate the Cyprus problem by eliminating Cyprus.” A suggestion he was particularly intrigued with was Don Wehmeyer’s scheme of 24 April, providing enosis with an illusion of partition or federation to the Turks by the establishment of certain provinces to be administered by Turkish Cypriot eparchs, as he cabled to Ball on 8 July. (Nicolet, ibid, p.257)
And this was finally realized with a so-called “controlled intervention” (Nicolet, ibid, p.213)  in the summer of 1974, which was decided by the Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece, Christos Ksantopoulos-Palamas and the Turkish Foreign Minister, Osman Olcay. The two ministers met on 3-4 June 1971 during the NATO ministerial meeting in Lisbon and discussed how to get rid of Makarios and put an end to the independence of the Republic of Cyprus by partitioning the island through “double enosis”.
            As the imperialist foreign powers and their tools on the island were against the independent development of the Republic of Cyprus, which followed a non-aligned foreign policy, they were continuously inciting nationalistic and anti-communist feelings among the island’s population. We observe again in this period that a Cypriot consciousness could not be developed to a sufficient degree.
From 1968 until 1974, various rounds of inter-communal negotiations were carried out without signing a final agreement.  A de facto situation was created by an aborted coup d’Etat against President Makarios, organized by the fascist Greek junta and its military forces in Cyprus on 15 July 1974. This created an opportunity for Turkey to intervene five days later to the internal affairs of Cyprus. Turkey occupied the 37% of the northern part of the island and on 16 August 1974, on the 16th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Cyprus, the island’s territory was partitioned into two regions, one in the North for the Turkish Cypriots and the other in the South for the Greek Cypriots.
In a declassified Secret Memorandum sent from Helmut Sonnenfeld, Counselor of the US State Department to Secretary Henry Kissinger on 14 August 1974, the directive was the following:
“Assuming the Turks quickly take Famagusta, privately assure Turks, we will get them a solution involving one third of the island, within some kind of federal arrangement.” (Cyprus Weekly, 10 August 2007)
            The Greek Cypriots were forced to leave the occupied areas and the Turkish Cypriots living in south of the cease-fire line were transported to the northern part. A bi-regional, ethnically cleansed geographical division was attained de facto. It remained to form a de jure central government for the “federation”, which was the aim of the Turkish government since 1964. The new state of affairs forced the Turkish Cypriots to have closer relationship with Turkey. The Turkish Cypriots became under the direct influence of the mainland Turkish economy, politics and culture.
            The Autonomous Turkish Cypriot Administration declared first on 13 February 1975 the “Cyprus Turkish Federated State” and then announced a unilateral declaration of independence on 15 November 1985, under the name “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”, on the Turkish occupied territory of the island. This was condemned immediately by a resolution of the Security Council of the UN. Several rounds of inter-communal talks could not bring the two communities together under a bi-communal federal umbrella and the island remains since 1974 partitioned, occupied and colonized. Besides the Turkish Occupation Army of 40,000 troops, there are more than 250,000 Anatolian settlers, living in the northern part of the island and most of them are given the citizenship of the “TRNC”. Northern Cyprus has become a colony of Turkey, where the number of the indigenous Turkish Cypriots are estimated to be around 120,000.
            We observed that especially after 1974, two different identities have emerged: One in the north of the divide, possessing the separatist “TRNC” as an expression of Turkish Cypriots’ nationalist identity and another one in the south of the divide, as the sole owner of the Cypriot state, which has distinctively a Greek Cypriot character.
            In order to reach at a common goal, there should be common political parties of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, seeking common political aims. The full equality of all the communities living on the island in the fields of politics, economy and culture could only be achieved through common political parties, which will fight for a democratic federal state and against all kinds of separatism and discrimination.
            A correct policy for the solution of the problem of nationalities is indispensable and this is the responsibility of the party of the working class, the AKEL. Unless the AKEL review its policy for the Turkish Cypriots and turn to them, no step forwards could be achieved with the existing nationalist policies and this would consolidate the partition of the island.  
            Another point of view, which should not be overlooked is that the solution of the problem in the concrete conditions of Cyprus depends on one hand on the elimination of the influences of imperialism and neo-colonialism and the military bases and on the other hand to decide how to solve the internal question of nationalities, which I see as the main issue. But the determining factor here is not the difference between the two communities. On the contrary, it has to be stressed that the class struggle in the whole country and in the international arena will be decisive.
It seems that the following fear of the imperialists is still valid, first mentioned in the 1989 International Yearbook of Communist Affairs: “If the north and the south of Cyprus will be united in a future “Federal Cyprus”, the electoral power of the Greek and Turkish communists can win the majority of the votes in any Presidential elections of such an unusual government. But here the crucial problem is not, as the bourgeois circles suggest, “which   community will govern the other one”, but “which class will have the power in his hand on the whole of the island.

(Paper read at the Emergency 4th Euro-Mediterranean Workers’ Conference, organized by Balkan Socialist Center “Christian Rakovsky” and the RedMed web network, in Athens-Greece, on 26-28 May 2017)

Thursday, March 2, 2017


In Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974 as a result of the occupation of the northern part of the island by Turkey, a new set of the intercommunal negotiations have been going on since mid-May 2015 between President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Akıncı, in order to reunite the island under a federal umbrella, but there are some uncertainties, which draw attention as follows:  

1. The two sides have agreed that the constituent federal states shall have the right to enter into agreements with foreign governments and international organizations on matters falling within their jurisdiction. These areas cover culture (including arts, education and sports), tourism and economic investment (including financial support).

According to the information given to the Turkish Cypriot press, the constituent states may only want the Federal Foreign Office to be in operation, if they need it! But the Greek Cypriot side said the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs will not need to ratify, as the agreements will involve the entire state in a cooperative effort with the constituent state.
Since the education is left to the powers of the constituent states, it is a matter of debate how federal state citizens will be educated in a federalist and unifying manner, whereas the nationalistic prejudices have been strong for many years. This issue is important in the context of the dependencies of the Turkish Cypriot statelet on Turkey in all aspects since 1974.

2. The Turkish Cypriot side has accepted in the past that the proportion of the territory of the constituent federal state in the north could fall from today’s 36% to 29% +. The Greek Cypriot side has prepared two maps, which envisage that 28.5% of the territory will be left to the Turkish Cypriot side, but the talks on territory have not yet ended.

The Greek Cypriot side suggested that if the establishment of cantons in the areas of Karpasia and Maronite villages were accepted, Morfou could also be a special administrative area for the central government.

The Turkish Cypriot does not accept the creation of special territories, mass population migrations and the reduction of the coastline. (According to official data of the Central Command of the British Sovereign Base Areas, 316.19 km of the coastline of Cyprus is controlled today by Southern Cyprus and 420.55 km by Northern Cyprus.) Moreover, it insists that the borderline between the two constituent states must be flat!

3. According to the agreement reached on the population, there will be 800,000 Greek Cypriots in the south and 220,000 Turkish Cypriots in the north. However, the Turkish side wants to add 30,000 Turkish Cypriots living abroad to this 220,000.

An interesting point is that Mr. Anastasiadis, in response to the question put by the Chairman of the Citizens’ Alliance, Georgos Lillikas, about the source of the number of accepted 220,000 Turkish Cypriot citizens, answered that the number of Greek Cypriots registered in the Statistical Office of the Republic of Cyprus was deliberately increased from 667,000 (2011 Census) to 800,000 in order to provide legitimacy to the 100,000, who are Turkish citizens!

According to the latest official census, conducted in 2011 in the occupied territory, the number of permanent residents is 286,257. The number of those born in Cyprus (“TRNC” and Southern Cyprus) was 160,207 (56.0%) and 104,641 (36.6%) were born in Turkey. As it is known, after 1974, Turkey moved population to the occupied territory in order to change the demographic structure of the island and this is contrary to the 1949 Geneva Convention. It is a fact that these settlers, who were granted citizenship of the “TRNC”, also voted for the Annan Plan, but this does not mean that they are legally located in the island.

On the other hand, President Anastasiades said that the number of Turkish Cypriots registered as Cypriot or have a passport or ID card is 117,544 and that there are at least 12,500 Turkish Cypriots, who did not apply or did not sign up, and thus the number of Turkish Cypriots reached 130,000.

Anastasiades said that the total number of Turkish nationals, formed by mixed marriages and their born children, did not exceed 90,000, but later he said that this figure was “a wrong number spelled out” and led to reactions. Anastasiades told that about 40,000 Turkish settlers will stay in the island and that this figure is much less than the Greek Cypriots had accepted in the past.

,In addition, Anastasiades noted that 25,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the United Kingdom have not applied to the Republic of Cyprus and that the number of Turkish Cypriots, included in the figure of 220,000, has increased to 155,000. It was estimated that the total number of mixed marriages and their children was 25,000 this time, making a total of 180,000 Turkish Cypriot population. Thus, he reduced the number of Turkish settlers, who would gain legitimacy, to 40,000.

Akıncı stated that the number of Turkish Cypriot citizens is taken as 220,000 persons, instead of 286,257 as mentioned above and he explained that all the “TRNC” citizens will be citizens of the new federal state and the EU in the future without difference of origin. Underlining that the work permits of the non-citizens will be renewed and they will continue to work, Akıncı emphasized that the work-force required by the economy will continue to be in Cyprus. He stated that the wish of the Turkish Cypriots is that the needed workforce should remain in the island.

The New Birth Party, formed by the settlers from Turkey, directed the following questions to Akıncı: "Anastasiades said 90,000 people will stay. Who are meant by the words, those who originate from Turkey? How are they determined? What is the status of the spouses in mixed marriages and what will happen to the children born in “TRNC”?

According to the Greek Cypriot press reports, it is estimated that between 90 and 120 thousand citizens of the Republic of Turkey will remain in the island. If it is the case, the Turkish Cypriots will be a minority in their own constituent state. In order to find out the real composition of the population, it is necessary to have a census, monitored by UN or another reliable organization.

This issue is important also for the EU. Because, if the composition of the population in the northern federal state is dominated by the settlers of Turkish descent, the impact of Turkey, which is not a member of the EU, may be decisive in Cyprus's foreign policy issues and this will cause dispute within the EU. Already, many bureaucrats in Brussels have asked "Will Erdogan step on to the territory of the EU through Cyprus? Will Cyprus be Erdogan's Trojan Horse?" Moreover, Turkey has demanded that four freedoms should be valid for its citizens in Cyprus that will remain to be a EU country after the solution.

4. The number of Greek Cypriots, who will live in the federal state in the north, has been constrained in terms of four freedoms and the ethnic cleansing after the 1974 war has also become permanent. The Turkish Cypriot side explained that there is difference between the legal domicile and the right of abode, which has no political or other right. Moreover, for any person, who would apply for "internal citizenship", s/he should be able to know and to use the native language in the North perfectly. Apart from the right to stay, for example, there will be no political right to vote. "Domestic citizenship", i.e. legal residence will be entitled maximum up to 20% of the population of the Turkish Cypriot constituent state. It is thought that thus, the majority of the Turkish Cypriot population in its own state will not be threatened in any way.

There are 183 topics, which have not yet been agreed upon, as reflected in the minutes of the negotiations. Among these are some of the demands of the Turkish Cypriot side:

1. Although there has already been a rapprochement in the idea of a “single ticket” for the election of the President and the Vice-President, the Turkish Cypriot side has clearly indicated during the process of negotiating the subject of “Governance” that "Cross voting" is a package with the subjects of “Rotating Presidency” and the choice of the ministers to be preferred by both communities. Thus a cleavage was formed.

2. The Turkish Cypriot side believes that the subject of Primary Law is not yet closed. However, Peter van Nuffel, EU Commissioner in Charge of the Negotiations, said that the Final Agreement must be approved in the national parliaments of the EU member countries, which is a very difficult argument.

3. The Turkish Cypriot side insisted on the FIR for having two separate air traffic control centres. The Greek Cypriot side did not discuss this and suggested that there should be two control towers for approaching 20 km to the airport.

4. It was agreed that the casinos would be under federal juristiction. However, according to the convergence reached, the operating conditions and rules will not be applied to the existing casino facilities in the occupied area.

5. The Turkish Cypriot side has not yet provided the required data for organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank that are examining the economic aspect of the solution.

After the political agreement is reached there are technical issues that need to be discussed and resolved. Some of them are: The writing of the constitutions of the constituent states and the federal state, which should be in harmony with each other, the list of international agreements, the federal laws and even the detailed writing of the coordinates of the territory. Besides the ones mentioned above, it has been reported that the UN provided a list of 103 items, including flag, anthem, civil servants, demining, etc., which should be realized before the agreement. Of course, once the internal aspects of the Cyprus dispute are resolved in this way, securing the newly established order, if necessary, by the UN or the EU, will be discussed at an international meeting. 

(Published in "In Depth", Bimonthly Electronic Newsletter, Special Issue: The Cyprus Problem, Volume 14, Issue 1- February 2017, © 2016 Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs • University of Nicosia)

Monday, November 28, 2016


The first founding meeting of the “Movement for an Independent and Federal Cyprus” took place in Ledra Palace Hotel in Nicosia on 23 and 24 September 1989 with the participation of 25 T/Cs and 36 G/Cs. The participants discussed the ways of rapprochement and more contacts between the two communities in Cyprus. The joint press release of the meeting was published both in the T/C and G/C press and the meeting was flash news at the CyBC-TV.
            The Second Meeting of the Movement took place on 20-21 January 1990, where the participants approved the following basic views and principles, which were later published, in Greek, Turkish and English languages as a leaflet.

Views and Basic Principles

1.We are concerned about our future
Every Cypriot citizen in our times is deeply concerned about the future of his country.
We have all lived through the tragic moments of our history – the armed and bloody conflicts, the forced displacement of people, the immeasurable human suffering, the partition of our country.
For years now we all have experienced the consequences of this violent separation – the uprooting, the uncertainty, the lack of contact and communication between Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot citizens.
The separate existence of the two communities and the separate organization of daily life leads them to consider the absence of each other as the norm. The new generation is raised with an image which presents the other community as the enemy – magnifying the crimes of the other side while minimizing the crimes of its own.

2. We acknowledge our share of common responsibilities
We believe that every Cypriot citizen fully comprehends that the root of our problem and suffering are quite complex. Undoubtedly, foreign interests and intervention share a substantial part of the blame.
We believe, however, that every sincere Cypriot also acknowledges a collective blame and responsibility. For it is the internal contradictions and weaknesses of our society that have made outside intervention possible.
The lack of common objectives, the antagonism between Turkish and Greek Cypriots – instead of a common, liberation struggle against colonial rule, undermined the prospect of a free and democratic common future.
The outcome of all this was a Constitution that was imposed on us and a “crippled” independence, where divisions, antagonism and suspicion among Greek and Turkish Cypriots were institutionalised. The final blow came from the persistence of separatist ideologies (Enosis and Partition) even after the establishment of the fragile Independence.

3. We must condemn both the violence and the separatist ideologies of the past.
All Cypriot citizens would agree that foreign meddling in our affairs should be put to an end and that we ourselves should be those to decide our own fate, our own future.
But this alone is not sufficient. In order to be able to proceed together towards a common future, with shared goals, we must begin by acknowledging and condemning whatever separated us in the past.
It is high time that each community acknowledges and irrevocably condemns the violence it used against the other in the past. For the ordinary citizen, the victim of violence whichever direction it came from, this violence was equally painful and caused the same grief.
It is high time each community recognized the consequences of its own separatist ideology and condemned it thereof. What is called for today is not an ideology that separates people, but one that can unite them together, that could form the basis of a common struggle.
This is the only way through which we can “cleanse” ourselves from our bloody and violent past – so that henceforth we may sincerely join forces together bringing about reconciliation and shaping a shared and peaceful future.

4. Federation – our common future
The continuation of separation and antagonism does not promote our own common interests, but only serves the enemies of the independence of Cyprus.
            The struggle for a common future, in a united country, is not a matter of sentimentalism or utopia – but a basic, imperative, historical and political need, a sheer matter of survival.
            In a common country the survival of Greek and Turkish Cypriots crucially depends on the survival of the Turkish Cypriots, and vice-versa.
            All Cypriot citizens have a right to live in a federated and united Cyprus, under conditions of freedom, democracy and security.
A federal solution is, under the present circumstances, the only guarantee for the independence of Cyprus. It should not be looked upon simply as a solution of necessity; it is at the same time our only hope for a just and peaceful common future.
            A federal solution has the potential of transcending our past history of violent conflict, which built the walls of separation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
The pursuit of a federal solution constitutes a common goal, a path towards a common future. A future, which will secure some measure of autonomy for each community, whilst also ensuring a unified character for the Cyprus Republic, preventing permanent separation and estrangement.
The future federation, for which we must strive, should be based on the principles of justice and viability. It should establish the right of every Cypriot to live in a democratic system, irrespective of race, ethnic identity, religion, sex or colour, under conditions of security and equal opportunities for development.
Federation is not a magic formula which will be introduced by outside forces, and which will automatically solve all of our problems. No one system or constitution can by itself secure our future. The most important is the good will of the people. Federation should be regarded as the expression of our collective determination for a joint struggle/effort by all Cypriots.

5. The mobilization of citizens is an imperative need
The dangers from the continuing impasse of the Cyprus problem are only too obvious. The reappearance of mistrust and chauvinism, as well as thoughtless pseudo-patriotism on either side, are the consequences of the present stalemate.
            Real and constructive patriotism nowadays means resistance to mistrust, fanaticism and chauvinism.
            Every Cypriot should stand against the reactionary forces in both communities which are attempting to undermine the effort for a common future – expressed, in our days, in the pursuit of a federal solution. It is only with the active participation of the people of Cyprus that independence, democracy and a common peaceful future can be achieved.
            The mobilization of ordinary citizens and the dialogue between Greek and Turkish Cypriots should become a conscious political choice and action, a matter to be undertaken independently – of and beyond any formal and official procedures.
            It is nowadays imperative to cross over from passive awaiting to active political participation in the struggle of shaping our common future.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Ahmet Djavit An

The origins of today’s Moslem population on the island
After the conquest of the Cyprus in 1570-71, the Ottoman commander Lala Mustafa Pasha left a small garisson on the island.  The official Ottoman sources refer to a total of 3,779 soldiers, many of whom, later, brought also their families.[1] Some of them even married the widows or daughters of the fallen Latin notables; an example is the last Lusignan Cornaro Lady of Potamia Castle who married the cavalry soldier Ibrahim Menteshoglou; their family has survived to the present day with the families of Menteshoglou and Bodamializade.
A census, taken shortly after the conquest, revealed a taxable population of some 85,000 Greeks, Armenians and Maronites, as well as 20,000 Turkish settlers, mostly campaign veterans, who were given land by Mustapha.[2] According to the Ottoman Register Book of 1572, 905 villages were inhabitated and 76 villages were deserted.[3] Thus the Ottomans did not build new villages and inhabited the empty ones, which mostly kept their old names while a few were given new Turkish names. The Sultan, realizing that the island needed human resources for labour, issued a firman which was sent to the Kadıs (local judges) of six Anatolian provinces: Karaman, Ichel, Bozok, Alaiye (Alanya), Teke (Antalya) and Manavgat. One in every ten families living in those provinces was ordered to transfer to the island, which meant a total of 5,720 families; at the end, only 1,689 families settled in Cyprus.[4]
According to the Register Book of 1581, there were plans to transfer 12,000 families, but eventually only 8,000 families were transported. In the following years, other Turkish families from Konya, Kirsehir, Chorum, Samsun, Chankiri, Eskisehir, Ankara, Darende and Ushak settled in the towns,[5] which were surrounded by fortified walls or had castles (Nicosia, Famagusta, Limassol, Paphos and Kyrenia), and in the deserted Latin villages.
Later the Anatolian settlers, who were mainly Turkmen artisans and villagers, intermingled with the Greeks of the island and cooperated with them in every field of life. Although the two communities belonged to different religions and had dissimilar ethnic distinctive features, they lived harmoniously, influencing each other as they worked side by side in the rural and urban areas.[6] In the course of 300 years of coexistence, during the Ottoman domination, some Christian Greeks converted to Islam in order to avoid high taxation. In some other cases, some Anatolian Moslems converted to Christianity.[7] Analysing the situation, Ronald C. Jennings wrote:

In the decades following the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus many of the island’s Christians converted to Islam.Contemporary observers and modern scholars have attributed that conversion to official compulsion, but no contemporary local sources substantiate that view except a few travelers embarrassed at the circumstances (as Venetians or Christians) who had no way of guessing how the new converts really felt. Although the level of conversion cannot be measured precisely, there are several indicators of its extent. In 1593-1595 32% of the adult male Muslims whose names and fathers’ names were cited as legal agents (vekil) were converts, as were 28% of those names as witnesses to legal cases and 41% of those named as instrumental witnesses. More than a third of such Muslims appearing in court at that time were converts. What the highest proportion ever reached was or when it was reached can only be conjectured, but obviously the intensity was temporary.[8]

There was another category of Cypriots, called Linobambaki that they were Crypto-Christians. This community of Cypriots was living in villages like Louroudjina (originally Laurentia), Potamia, Monagria, Ayios Sozomenos and some villages of Tylliria that were formerly estates of the Latins, who converted en masse to Islam.[9] Theodoros Papadopoullos gave an example of conversions from Christianity into Islam between 1825 and 1832, when in 16 villages, the percentage of the previously Christian population changed into a Moslem religion. By 1960, nine of them (Marki, Givisilin, Melounda, Kouklia, Sinda, Prastio, Malunda, Kantou, Platanissos) were all Moslem, two villages (Skoulli, Monagri) were all Christian, and the remaining five villages (Denia, Flasou, Palekithro, Syngrasi, Moniatis) had one third of their village population as Moslems.[10]
            Paschalis M. Kitromilides pointed out that the names of Christian Saints borne by several Turkish villages, especially in the Paphos and the Karpasia regions, offer a convincing indication of Islamization. These are the following Turkish Cypriot villages: in Paphos district, Ayyanni (Agios Ioannis), Aynikola (Agios Nikolaos), Ayyorgi (Agios georgios); in Limassol district, Aytuma (Agios Thomas); in Nicosia district, Aybifan (Agios Epiphanios); in Famagusta district, Ayharida (Agios Chariton); in Karpassia; Hirsofu (Agios Iakovos), Ayandroniko (Agios Andronikos), Ayistar (Agios Efstathios), Aysimyo (Agios Symeon).[11] Kitromilides notably wrote:

It should be made clear in this connection that this sort of evidence is not cited here in order to question the Turkish Cypriots’ Turkishness – which as is the case with modern national identity generally, has to do more with the states of consciousness and less with the ‘purity’ of ethnic origins.[12]

The Moslem identity of the Turkish Cypriots
After the conquest of Cyprus in 1571, the traditional Ottoman settlement system brought a new ethnological and cultural element to the island. The Anatolian Moslems had a different religion, language and culture than the island’s Christian population. The Latin Catholic Church did not oppress the Orthodox Christians anymore, and the Latins (Lusignans and Venetians) were allowed to stay in Cyprus if they would choose the religion of the conqueror, Islam, or the religion of the local Cypriot Orthodox people.[13] According to the Ottoman millet system, there were two millets in Cyprus. One was the Moslem millet and the other was the (Christian) Rum[14] millet. The Orthodox Christian Church and its Archbishop was responsible from the Christian population and later he was given the right to collect the taxes for the Ottoman governor. 
The Moslem community was mainly Sunni-Islam following the Hanefi sect. There were a Muftü for religious affairs, a Chief Kadı appointed from Istanbul for judicial matters, and a Mulla as the deputy of the Ottoman Governor.  From 1571 up to 1839, when a legal reform (Tanzimat) was proclaimed, the Moslem sacred Sheri Law was applied for the Moslem population; the Sheri Laws derived mainly from verses of the Koran and from traditions of Prophet Mohammed. Sometimes the Orthodox Christians themselves applied to the Sheri Courts in order to solve their disagreements with the Moslems in Cyprus. The Anatolian settlers believed in Islam, but they were not all following strictly the Sunni sect; some followed other sufi orders. For example, the tanners in Nicosia had their own lodge, called “Ahi Revan Dede”, a kind of “lonca” (professional syndicate). 
Right after the Ottoman occupation of Cyprus in 1570, various Vakfs[15] were created for the assistance of the Moslem community in their religious, social and cultural needs. Since the Ottoman conquerer of Cyprus, Lala Mustafa Pasha, was a devotee of the Mevlevi order, a Tekke[16] was built in Nicosia, near the Kyrenia gate, soon after the conquest; the Mevlevi Tekke functioned until the beginning of the 1950’s. Another Tekke of the Jelveti order was built in Famagusta, which had a library founded by Kutup Osman Efendi, the Grand Şeyh of this order. Aziziye Tekke, within the municipality market of Nicosia, founded in the name of the Müftü of the Ottoman Army that conquered Nicosia in 1570, was following the Rifai order. C. F. Beckingham wrote in 1955:

The dervish orders, which still have secret adherents in Turkey, were not strong in Cyprus. At present there is one Mevlevi tekke in Nicosia. […] Most Cypriot Muslims would prefer to close the tekke and use its income for the repair of mosques, the payment of hocas and religious education. It is felt that the Mevlevi ritual has lost all religious significance and has become, as one Muslim said, ‘a floor-show for tourists’.[17] (The text continues with a new paragraph here)

Formerly other dervish orders had a few adherents. There were Qadiris in Nicosia at the time of British occupation and there was once a small Bektaşi community in Larnaca; these have now disappeared. In Turkey many of the dervish orders were, or became, xenophobe. Their comparative absence from Cyprus, doubtlessly, helped the spread of modern ideas. The general character of Cypriot Islam is liberal and tolerant, and in this the Mufti reflects the attitude of the community. The social changes associated with Ataturk’s revolution were introduced into Cyprus without encountering the opposition of mullas, as they did in some parts of Turkey. (17) [Is this your text or Beckingham’s text? Quoted from Beckingham, same article, word by word]
When the British occupation began in 1878, the administration of Evkaf (Moslem pious organization) was entrusted to two delegates; a British, and a Moslem Turk who was appointed by the “Sublime Porte” (Ottoman Empire). The annexation of Cyprus (1914) and the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) brought a change in the status of the island; when the post of the Turkish delegate vacated in 1925, after the death of Musa İrfan Bey, the appointment was made by the British authorities (Colonial Office), which was subsequently confirmed by a British Order-in-Council in 1928.[18] The Moslem members of the Legislative Council, led by Hacı Hafiz Ziyai Efendi, protested to the British colonial government and claimed that the Caliph should appoint the director of Evkaf, and that the Cyprus Kadı should be considered as the head of Evkaf.
Vedjhi Efendi, who was the Kadı of Cyprus, supported this thesis. Already in 1902, the governor of Cyprus informed the Kadı by telegram that the management of the Evkaf would be carried out by the Kadı of Cyprus; advocate Fadıl Korkut wrote that he was among the congregation when this telegram was openly read in the Agia Sophia Mosque in Nicosia. Vedjhi Efendi was not able to take the necessary steps to implement the transfer of administration to Evkaf, since he got a mental disease; eventually Hacı Hafız Ziyai Efendi withdrew from the Legislative Council and become the Müftü of Cyprus. The Turkish Cypriot delegate of Evkaf, Musa İrfan Bey, who was appointed in 1903, started to behave as the leader of the Moslem community by using his authority at the Evkaf. He also adopted a policy of allocating the Moslem memberships of the Legislative Council to the candidates of the Evkaf. He gave 10,000 pounds credit to the candidates from the Evkaf Treasure, but later there were difficulties to get the Evkaf money back.
When Numan Efendi was appointed to the post of Kadı of Cyprus in 1907, he demanded again to get the administration of Evkaf to his office. It was in this year, when Dr. Hafız Djemal Bey (Lokman Hekim) settled in his own country and started to publish a newspaper and more than 20 booklets for the enlightenment of the Turkish Cypriot community. He also opened his Cyprus Industrial School in Nicosia, where young boys were taught various handworks and they used to sell their products in the Friday Market. In the evening classes, people were taught foreign languages. But the reactionary circles fought against him until he left the island for good in 1909.  
A National Council (Meclis-i Milli) convened under the leadership of Müftü Ziyai Efendi on 10 December 1918 in order to raise the demands of the Turkish Cypriots in the Paris Conference, where the Greek Cypriots would participate. We read from its resolution that Müftü Ziyai Efendi was elected as the head of the millet (reis-i millet), defining the Müftü for the first time as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. But the British local government did not allow him to go abroad.
When the “Organization of Islam Community” (Cemaat-ı İslamiye Teşkilatı) was established in 1924, as the first political association of the Turkish Cypriots, it demanded that the administration of the Evkaf should be handed over to a commission to be elected among the community. There was no positive outcome and when Münir Bey was appointed as the Turkish delegate of Evkaf in 1925, after the death of İrfan Bey, the government had two delegates, instead of one. Evkaf should have been handed over to its real owner, the Turkish Cypriot community, but the Lausanne Agreement had already abolished the Cyprus Convention, which provided for the British Administration to appoint one of the Evkaf delegates.[19]
            In 1928, the Evkaf Department was established by a decree issued by the colonial government, which gave special privileges to the director of the department. After the Lausanne Agreement, the Evkaf properties in the Balkan countries and Palestine were to be administered by a commission and this was not done in Cyprus and therefore there was no say anymore on the administration of the Evkaf properties by the Turkish Cypriot community. On the other hand, the Greek Orthodox Church continued to administer the Church properties in Cyprus.
Starting from 1923, when the Republic of Turkey was declared, there was no Califdom and no Minister for Religious Affairs anymore in modern Turkey. The British Colonial Government abolished the post of Müftü, starting from 19 November 1928, and this was an important event, since the Moslem population had this institution since 1571. Instead of Müftü, the post of Fetva Emini was created under the Evkaf Department and Hürremzade Hakkı Efendi was appointed there. He was supporting the Kemalists and also made a meeting together with the teacher for replacing the Arabic alphabet with the Latin at the schools. Now the authority of the Evkaf director was reinforced and Münir Bey was regarded as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community and was invited as such to the Royal Garden party in London in 1928.
The Sheri Courts were in a deplorable state, functioning in Cyprus as if the island was still in Ottoman 19th Century. In 1927, the Cyprus Courts of Justice Order-in-Council limited the jurisdiction of the Sheri Courts to strictly Moslem religious matters and provided for appeals from them to the Supreme Court. This was done in conformity with the view of a report prepared by three leading Turkish Cypriots, Münir Bey, M. Raif and M. Shevket. Cingizzade Mehmet Rifat wrote a series of open letters to the British Governor of Cyprus, between 10 December 1932 and 11 March 1933, in his newspaper Masum Millet for the modernization of the Sheri Courts, and the Inheritance Law, similar to the reforms made in Turkey since 1926, as well as the matters of Müftü and Evkaf. 
            In 1930, Münir Bey lost his seat at the Legislative Council to the Kemalist leader Necati Bey, who voted later in April 1931 against the Customs Tax Law together with the Greek Cypriot members. In May 1931, Necati Bey convened a National Congress, where a new Müftü was elected for the Turkish Cypriots, but this was not recognized officially by the colonial government. When the British appointed in 1951 Yakup Celal Menzilcioğlu, aged 72, as temporary Müftü from Turkey, his preaching was strongly criticized by the Kemalists of the Turkish Cypriot community; uncoincidentally, after six months the anti-Kemalist Menzilcioglu resigned and left Cyprus. Necati Özkan supported again another candidate from Turkey, Mahmut Kamil Toker, for the post of Müftü against the candidate of the National Party of Dr.Küçük, Dana Efendi. But Toker was forced to withdraw his candidacy before coming to the island and the only candidate from Paphos, Dana Efendi was elected on 30 December 1953 as the new Müftü of Cypriot Muslims.    

Religious Education
Eleven “Sibyan” schools were opened between 1571 and 1600 for the elementary education. In 1632 “Büyük Medrese” and in 1640 “Küçük Medrese” were founded for the young people, who wanted to acquire religious and legal knowledge. These schools were started by rich philanthropic Turkish Cypriots, who made vakıf for the financing of these institutions, therefore the schools were under the administration of the Evkaf. From the Vakf Registers, we can see that some of these philanthropics belong to religious orders that they appointed their own care-takers for these vakıf properties for financing their activities.[20]
The first modern secondary school (Rüştiye) was opened in 1862 and in 1897 the first modern gymnasium (İdadi) followed. In 1922, it was called “Sultani”, but after the foundation of Turkey, the name was changed into “Cyprus Turkish Lycee”. The British colonial government appointed in 1937 an English headmaster to the Lycee, Mr. Wood, who changed the name all of a sudden into “Cyprus Islam Lycee”. The Turkish Cypriot community could use the original name only in 1950, when a Turkish Cypriot Headmaster was appointed to the Lycee. In 1932 a Moslem Theological School was established by Münir Bey in order to replace the Büyük Medrese, which was demolished. Advocate Mehmet Rifat (Con Rifat), who was one of the supporters of the Kemalist populist movement, criticized in his newspaper Masum Millet [Innocent Nation] the establishment of a Theological School in Cyprus.
In the first year, there were only two students and three teachers. From 1932 until 1949, in 16 years, only 8 imams graduated from this school. To be exact, in addition, two persons, one coming from Solia and the other from Tilliria also took a short course. If we bear in mind that there were about 300 mosques over the island, the qualified imams were not over two dozens. Many mosques were without imams and prayers were officiated there only at great intervals, twice a year by qualified persons. This Moslem Theological School in Nicosia was closed in 1949.[21]
            The Interim Report on Turkish Cypriot Affairs was prepared in 1949 by exclusively Turkish Cypriot members, who collected data on all relevant subjects (Evkaf, Müftü, Family Laws, Sherie Couts, Schools) from official and non-official quarters, and five public meetings were held in all towns of the island other than Kyrenia. The Turkish Cypriot press gave also considerable prominence to its deliberations. Therefore, these recommendations had gained general approval and represented a fair reflection of the desires and opinions of the Turkish Cypriot community. Thus the Turkish Family Courts Law and Marriage and Divorce Law came into force in 1951 and later amended in 1954.[22] There were reactions by Şeyh Nazım Hoca, who published a leaflet “Family Law is contrary to the Sheria”, but he was attacked by Dr. Küçük in Halkın Sesi, on 25 May 1950. Another political opponent of Dr.Küçük, Necati Özkan, wrote a series of articles in his own newspaper İstiklal (28 May-11 June 1950). The Turkish Religious Head (Müftü) Law was enacted in 1953. It provided an indirect election, that the Turkish Cypriot community elected in 1954 Dana Efendi as the Müftü for the first time after 27 years. The transfer of the Management of Evkaf properties was made officially on 14 April 1956. The administration of the Turkish Cypriot schools was handed over to the Turkish Cypriot community on 9 June 1959. 

The traditional Turkish Cypriot mosques
After the conquest of the island in 1571, the Ottomans were impressed with the Latin cathedrals in Nicosia and Famagusta and they converted them into mosques by adding minarets and other Islamic elements. Besides these and other conversions, mosques were built by the Turks in various periods in Ottoman style. Those of architectural interest are Arabahmet, Sarayönü and Turunçlu in Nicosia, Seyit Mehmet Ağa and Hala Sultan in Larnaca, Haydar Paşazade Mehmet Bey in Lapithos, Cafer Paşa in Kyrenia and Camii Cedid in Limassol. The mosques in the villages have tiled roofs, carried by one or two rows of high arches, giving the interior a spacious atmosphere.[23] Most of the mosques in rural areas did not have minaret, because they were modest buildings for the villagers built by Evkaf. Some writers insist that they represent the Alevite sect in Cyprus; but they have nothing to do with the “Cemevi”, where the Alevites perform their rituals.

The Islamization of the northern part of the island
There has been a religious movement among the Turkish Cypriot community, which was mainly represented by Şeyh Nazım Hoca, a Turkish Cypriot follower of the Nakshibendi order, which was active especially between the years 1945 and 1949 and later in 1954. Those activities were well documented by one of his followers, Hüseyin Mehmet Ateşin, in his book Dr. Fazıl Küçük and Şeyh Nazım Kıbrısi, (İstanbul, 1997). The book reflected the ideological struggle between Dr. Fazıl Küçük, (who was supporting Kemalism and modern Turkey in Cyprus in his activities for winning the leadership of his community) and Nazım Hoca, (who was an anti-Kemalist.) The same writer wrote also the history of the Islamic Movement among the Turkish Cypriots in Kıbrıs’ta İslami Kimlik Davası [The case of Islamic Identity in Cyprus] (İstanbul 1996).[24]
Islamization activities of the occupied parts of the island started right after the invasion and the occupation in 1974. Churches were transformed into mosques in the main towns and villages. Religious propaganda went parallel with the increasing activities of the religious parties in Turkey. When Müftü Dana Efendi retired on 1 September 1971, his deputy, Dr. Rifat Mustafa was appointed as Müftü. The Turkish Cypriot Islam Association was founded already in 1971 with a publication of a fortnightly newspaper Her şeyde ve her yerde milli ve dini NİZAM [National and religious ORDER in everything and at everywhere], on 5 February 1971, which ceased its publication with issue 38 on 19 July 1974. Right wing and religiously oriented columnists from Tercüman newspaper, Ahmet Kabaklı and Ergun Göze, were invited to Cyprus in February 1974; it was a kind of revival of the Şeyh Nazım movement.
A second religious association “Cyprus Turkish Islam Cultural Association” was re-activated after 1974. One of its activities was a conference organized in Kyrenia in June 1977. The chairman of the Association accused the Turkish Cypriots as being “Gavur” (infidel to Islam): “Unless Islam disseminates now or in the future in Cyprus, they shall stay as Gavur as they are today”.[25] The insult provoked Dr. Fazıl Küçük to reply in a series of articles in his daily Halkın Sesi for five days, under the title “Tongues with spikes”. On 12 July 1977 he wrote:

They have given permission to those members from the Koran courses that are spreading across the island and they are practicing as imams and preachers. The administration should be more sensitive in their duties. […] We are embarrassed from the words of those, who came from mountain or forest villages. They don’t know how to walk properly on the street, with their wide trousers. They are chewing the sentence ‘You are bastards of the British, gavurs, without any religion’ and they passed the limits of tolerance. We don’t know what will happen and what will be the result, when there will be no tolerance for these curses. […] Our arms are open for the Ataturkist imams and preachers and we can share our bread with them. These associations have become hearths of disaster. These Islam associations should be closed without any further delay. Although everyone is free to open an association according to the constitution, but the government has the right to close them, when they engage in dangerous activities. […] There is no authority today, who will force them to withdraw their long tongues back into their mouth, who says ‘We shall make you, the gavur Turks, Moslem’.[26]

He further wrote that he had received a letter about the activities of Süleymanist missioners, who were employed by the Müftü Mustafa Rifat that they were teaching Arabic to the youth in Famagusta and giving conferences without getting permission in the villages, where they accused the Turkish Cypriots of not being religious enough. Halkın Sesi reported one year later, on 11 August 1978, that Koran courses were organized in a mosque in Famagusta and the children were told not to watch TV, because it was a sin; small boys were not allowed to wear short trousers and they could not learn by heart to sing the prayers properly at the minarets.

The growth of mosques an Islam in occupied Cyprus
There were approximately 300 mosques in Cyprus before 1974. Many of them in the rural areas did not have minarets and between 1968 and 1974 minarets were built to some mosques like the ones at Krini, Fota and Agridi. At the end of 1991, there were 141 mosques in the occupied areas, but 58 of them did not have imams for performing the religious prayers. Βy 1999 the Department for Religious Affairs – with a personnel of 13 – employed 135 imams in all the mosques (only 5 of them were graduates of a Theological Faculty), plus 56 imams were appointed from Turkey. According to the official numbers, there were 199 mosques in the ‘TRNC’ at the end of 2012, excluding those in construction; in these mosques, 255 imam and muezzin were employed. Furthermore, there were another 103 imams, who were paid by the Turkish Embassy in Nicosia. Thus the total number of imams – including the three imams working in the southern part of the island – is 361 of whom only ten are are permanently employed while the rest are on a contact basis.[27] In 2014, there were 260 imams, who were paid from the budget of the Prime Ministry of the TRNC, but only 13 of them were on permanent staff- list. Another 120 imams received their salaries from the Turkish Embassy in Nicosia.[28]
Nine mosques were built between 1974 and 2002 in various towns and villages in the occupied areas with the finances of the Turkish Embassy in Nicosia. One of them is the big mosque, built in Anatolian style in Kyrenia in 1999 and it was named after Nurettin Ersin Pasha, the Turkish commander of the 1974 invasion forces. It was followed, in 2003, by another big mosque that was built in Famagusta and was named after Fazıl Polat Pasha, the Turkish commander who occupied Famagusta in 1974. In the summer of 2005, there were a total of 173 mosques and a budget of 3.5 million TL was allocated in order to build 12 new mosques. During the AKP government, starting with the year 2002, out of 39 newly built mosques, 37 were in occupied Greek Cypriot villages; they were all reduced-size copies of the big mosque built in Kyrenia, either with one or two minarets.[29]
The Turkish Cypriots perceive these Islamization activities with concern. For example the Trade Union of Turkish Cypriot Teachers (KTÖS) issued a statement and criticized the ongoing Koran courses and new schools for religious education:

There are 192 mosques in the TRNC, whereas there are 160 schools, 21 health centres and 17 hospitals. Each university wants to build a mosque and these plans increased the controversies. […] They say that they got permission from the Ministry of Education, but there are Koran courses ongoing in the mosques, without permission and controls. If the government does not have the power to control these places, they should resign.[30]

The Trade Union of the Turkish Cypriots Secondary School Teachers (KTOEÖS) protested for a teacher that was appointed from Turkey, at the Polatpaşa Lycee, because the pupils did not like the way he was teaching the lesson of “Religious Culture and Ethics”.[31] The parents’ association of the same school made a demonstration and criticized the Ministry of Education that there was no inspection how the teachers for religion perform their duties.[32] The chairman of KTOS, Semen Saygun, remarked that there were 2,000 pupils, who were participating at the Koran courses during summer season in 2012 while in 2015 the number increased to 5,000. She said that it was not pedagogically appropriate for the immature children to have these courses instead of playing games, resting or spending time with their own families.[33]

Turkish Cypriot reaction
The majority of the Turkish Cypriots does not like that that religious belief is mixed with politics in a show off and are against using religion for political purposes.  Therefore they do not approve mass propaganda for Islam, done by the various religious associations, mainly set up by Anatolian settlers and students. There have always been religious people among the Turkish Cypriot community, but they were in minority and not so fanatic. Some religious Turkish Cypriots formed in cooperation with Turkish settlers some political parties, which were based on religious programs, but they did not have any success: “Reform and Welfare Party” (1979), “Our party” (1998). When the followers of Şeyh Nazım convened on 22 December 1996 in Nicosia at a meeting under the name “Great Islam Congress”, Şeyh Nazım defined the Turkish Cypriot as “a different kind of human, who is clever and has many demonic ideas. There is a need to have someone, who can imprison the demon in a bottle. Those imams, who are sent from Turkey, do not know the Turkish Cypriots. I can convince millions, but in the last 60 years, I got tired of trying to convince this millet (of Turkish Cypriots)!”[34]
            Since the population of the Anatolian settlers is more than the local Turkish Cypriots in the occupied areas at the moment, religious events and activities are organized mainly for them by various associations and organizations that are financed by the Turkish Embassy in Nicosia or some reactionary Arabic countries, and enjoy the support of the ‘TRNC’ government. Last year the Evkaf distributed 5,000 packages of food, sent by the General Directorate of the Vakıfs in Turkey. During the Ramadan month, when the Moslems do not eat or drink anything during the daytime, 100,000 persons had the chance to have dinner on 14 meeting-points in various towns and villages, under the organization of the “Red Crescent Association of Northern Cyprus” with the support of the Turkish Embassy Aid Department in Nicosia. Since 2005, it has been a traditional event. Similar dinners were given also by the Evkaf Department, the Turkish Cypriot Islam Association and Universal Love and Brotherhood Association (ESKAD).[35]
            At the moment there are 600 students at the two theological faculties, one at the Near East University (YDU) and the other one at the University of Social Sciences [Sosyal Bilimler Üniversitesi], while another 800 pupils attend the Theological Colleges. Almost all of the students and teenage pupils are from Turkey who came to the occupied areas with scholarships while a small number are the children of the Anatolian settlers; the teachers are all coming from Turkey. The newly established Hala Sultan Theological College is part of the big complex with a boarding house, a large mosque, conference rooms and shops that will cost 80 million dollars. The Hala Sultan Mosque with its four tall minarets – a small replica of the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne – will be ready by 2017 at a total cost of 30 million dollars. Another large mosque with six minarets is being constructed at the Near East University and is expected to be completed by 2017.
            It is interesting to note that an Anatolian settler, professor Talip Atalay – also an unsuccessful AKP candidate at the 2015 general elections – who settled with his family in occupied Famagusta in 1975, when he was 7 years old, was appointed by Ankara, in 2010, as the Muftü of Cyprus. His employment as the Director of the Religious Affairs, was accompanied by the purchase of two Mercedes and three BMW cars for his Department, which caused criticism by the Trade Union “Hizmet-Sen” in the Turkish Cypriot press.[36] Talip Atalay, a professor of theology, represents the Turkish Cypriot community in its relations with the Cyprus Greek Orthodox Church and he is welcomed by the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus, although he is not a local Turkish Cypriot. The Anatolian settlers can visit now the Hala Sultan Tekke during Moslem Holidays. Since 2014, four such visits were organized with the participation of more than one thousand visitors in each time, comprising mainly of the Turkish citizens![37]

(Published in “EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN POLICY NOTE • No. 8 • 10 July 2016, Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs, University of Nicosia)

Dr Ahmet Djavit An, MD, is a historical researcher, activist and author of 24 books about the Turkish Cypriot political, religious, communal and social affairs. Among his books about the history of the Turkish Cypriots and the Cyprus Problem are: Kıbrıs’ta Fırtınalı Yıllar (1942-1962) [The stormy years in Cyprus (1942-1962)], (Nicosia: Galeri Kultur, 1996); Kıbrıs Türk Liderliğinin Oluşması: Dinsel Toplumdan Ulusal Topluma Geçiş Süreci (1900-1942) [The formation of the Turkish Cypriot leadership: the process of making a national community out of a religious community (1900-1942)], (Nicosia: Galeri Kultur, 1997); Kıbrıslılık Bilincinin Geliştirilmesi [Notes on the development of Cypriot awareness], (Nicosia: Galeri Kultur, 1998); Kıbrıs Nereye Gidiyor? [Quo Vadis Cyprus], (Istanbul: Everest, 2002); Küçük Adada Büyük Oyunlar: Kıbrıs’ta Ayrılıkçılık, Federal Çözüm ve AB Üyeliği [Big games on a small island: separatism, federal solution and EU membership of Cyprus], (Istanbul: NK Publishing, 2004); Kıbrıs Türk Toplumunun Geri Kalmışlığı (1896-1962) [The under-development of the Turkish Cypriot community (1892-1962)], (Nicosia: Shadi Publishing, 2006)

[1] Cengiz Orhonlu, The Ottoman Turks Settle in Cyprus (1570-1580), in Milletlerarası Birinci Kıbrıs Tetkikleri Kongresi (14-19 Nisan 1969) Türk Heyeti Tebliğleri, Ankara 1971, p.100
[2] Ibid, p.97
[3] According to the 1572 census 76 villages in the Mesaoria and Mazotos regions were empty: Cengiz Orhonlu, Milletlerarası Birinci Kıbrıs Tetkikleri Kongresi Türk Heyeti Tebliğleri, p.93. Quoting B. Sagredo in des Mas Latrie, Histoire De L’Ile de Chypre, III, Paris 1855, p. 542, Halil İnalcık wrote that “in 1562 there were 246 villages belonging to the State and were described as ‘Real’ while those belonging to the mobility and the Church numbered 567”: Halil İnalcık, Milletlerarası Birinci Kıbrıs Tetkikleri Kongresi Türk Heyeti Tebliğleri, p. 64.
[4] Cengiz Orhonlu, ibid, p.94
[5] Ibid, p.100
[6] Ahmet Djavit An, “Origins of Turkish Cypriots”, Cyprus Today, Vol. XLVI, No. 2, April-June 2008, pp.13-21.
[7] Letter of Mehmet Ziyai Efendi to Sublime Porte (“Bab-ı Ali” in İstanbul) dated 22 February 1910, quoted by Mustafa Haşim Altan, Kıbrıs’ta Rumlaştırma Hareketleri [Movements for Greek convertions in Cyprus), 2nd edn (Kyrenia: Milli Arşiv, 2000), pp. 9-10; also M. Nabi, “Nüfus Sayımı-2”, Hürsöz newspaper, 15 June 1947.
[8] Author’s emphasis; Ronald C. Jennings, Christians and Muslims in Ottoman Cyprus and the Mediterranean World, 1571-1640, New York University Studies in Near Eastern Civilization XVIII (New York: New York University Press, 1992), p. 137.
[9] Alkan Chaglar, Toplum Postası newspaper, London, 5 August 1981.
[10] Cyprus Today, July-December 1967 and January-March 1968.
[11] Paschalis M. Kitromilides, “From coexistence to confrontation: the dynamics of ethnic conflict in Cyprus”, in Cyprus Reviewed, ed. by Michalis Attalides (Nicosia: New Cyprus Association, 1977), pp 35-70 (37).
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ahmet An, ‘Changes in the ethnic and cultural structure of Cyprus after 1571’, in Kıbrıs Türk Kültürü Üzerine Yazılar [Articles on the Turkish Cypriot Culture]; (Nicosia: Ateş Matbaacılık, 1999), p.15.
[14] [“Rum” is related to Eastern Roman Empire and all the Greek speaking Orthodox Christians, who were living in Anatolia, were called as “Rum” in Turkish language. The Greek Cypriots used to be citizens of the Eastern Roman Empire, therefore they were called also as “Rum”, i.e. “Kıbrıslı Rumlar” (Rums of Cyprus).  For example, those Rums, who were living in the Black Sea region, were called as “Trabzonlu Rumlar” (“Rums of Trebizun”= Pontians). On the other hand, “Yunan” means (Ionian in Arabic) and it is used for a citizen of the state of “Yunanistan” (Land of Ionians= Greece) after 1829. Therefore the Greeks, living outside the boundaries of Greece, are called “Rum” as the ex-citizens of Eastern Roman Empire, not being the citizens of Greece.  Could you please explain in this footnote why the Christians in Cyprus were called Rum and not Υunan]
[15] Evkaf is a religious institution in Islam. The legal definition of Vakf (Evkaf is the plural of Vakf) is the tying up of the property for the sake of God and to earn the Divine Mercy, with ultimate imposition of interdiction on its transfer to persons contrary to the conditions of dedication. The term is equivalent of “dedication”.
[16] A Tekke (convent) is a place where Dervishes belonging to a cult used to stay and carry out their prayers and religious ceremonies. 
[17]  C. F. Beckingham, “Islam in Cyprus”, The Islamic Quarterly, vol. II, no. 2, July 1955, p. 140.
[18] M. Kemal Dizdar, “Cyprus Evkaf”, in Milletlerarası Birinci Kıbrıs Tetkikleri Kongresi, 14-19 Nisan 1969 Türk Heyeti Tebliğleri (Papers of the Turkish delegation to the First International Congress of Cypriot Studies) Ankara: 1971, p. 211.  

[19] Advocate Fadıl N. Korkut, 31 Mart 1947 tarihinde Kıbrısta Mevcut Türk Kurumları Namına Ekselâns Valiye Takdim Edilen Arizada Hükûmetten Talep Edilen Haklarımızdan 2ncisi EVKAF, Hür Söz Basımevi, (Lefkoşa), (Evkaf, The second of our rights, being demanded from the government in an application given to his Excellency the Governor in the name of the existing Turkish institutions in Cyprus on 31 March 1947, Hür Söz Printing House (Nicosia).

[20] Ali Süha, ‘Turkish Education in Cyprus’, in Papers of the Turkish delegation to the First International Congress of Cypriot Studies (Ankara: 1971), pp. 235-237.
[21] 1949 Interim Report of the Committee on Turkish Affairs [in Turkish], Nicosia 1950, p.70.
[22] Ahmet An, A Short Overview on the Past of the Turkish Law Institutions in Cyprus, Articles on Turkish Cypriot Culture, Nicosia, 1999, p.89.
[23] Hakkı M. Atun, “The Influence of Ottoman Architecture in Cyprus”, in Papers of the Turkish Delegation to the First International Congress of Cypriot Studies (Ankara: 1971), pp. 262-263.
[24] Ahmet An, “The role of religion in Turkish Cypriot community” (in Turkish), Kıbrıslı Turkun Sesi dergisi, 27 September 1996, http://can-kibrisim.blogspot.com.cy/2014/01/kibris-turk-toplumunda-dinin-yeri.html; Ahmet An, “Religion and society in the 2000’s” (in Turkish), Kıbrıslı Turkun Sesi dergisi, December 1997, http://can-kibrisim.blogspot.com.cy/2014 /01/2000li-yillarda-din-ve-toplum.html.
[25] Halkın Sesi, 11 June 1977.
[26] Dr Fazil Küçük, “Dikenli diller” [Tongues with spikes], Halkın Sesi, 12 July 1977, p. 1
[27] Havadis, 6 December 2012.
[28] Afrika, 18 August 2014.
[29] Mete Hatay, “‘Direniş’ Minarelerinden ‘Vesayet’ Minarelerine”, Afrika, 17 October 2014, p. 19.
[30] KTÖS Press release, Kıbrıslı, 5 August 2012.
[31] Yenidüzen, 29 December 2015.
[32] Kıbrıs, 16 February 2016.
[33] Kıbrıs, 11 July 2015. 
[34] Quoted by Ahmet An, Kıbrıs Türk Toplumunda Dinin Yeri [Place of Religion in Turkish Cypriot Society] Kıbrıslı magazine, 27 September 1996, no.14.
[35]  Kıbrıs, 18 June 2015.
[36] Afrika, 5 March 2014, p. 3.
[37] Kıbrıs, 11 December 2015.