Sunday, September 12, 2021


Below are my answers to the questions asked by Haravgi correspondent Costas Pitsilloudes: 

a) How likely is it that the announcements of Ersin Tatar, and also of the Turkish ambassador, Ali Murat Bashcheri, that will change the teaching of history in the schools of North to enter into force?

Turkey has an agenda for Turkifying the occupied part of our island since 1974. The governments in Turkey wanted to make the T/Cs feel “more Turkish and more Moslem”. This policy was intensified especially during the power of the “Justice and Development Party” (AKP). On the other hand, they aim mainly the Anatolian settlers and their children who have been living here in the last almost half a century. They were given the citizenship of the “TRNC” and they vote together with the indigenous Turkish Cypriots, who are less in number than the newcomers.

It is well known that Tatar won last year the “Presidency of the TRNC” in the second round only with 4,412 more votes. This was an increase of 9% that was made possible with the interventions of the officers of the “Turkish Embassy” in Nicosia. The votes came especially from Famagusta and Trikomo areas, where the settlers are mostly settled.

It is interesting that 29 governments and 43 cabinets have served in the occupied area of ​​our island in the last 46 years. Turkish ambassador functions as an appointed governor of the “subordinate administration”. With the help of the local collaborators of the occupation regime, many changes were put into force in the past and new history text books will not be an exception!   

b) If this event takes place, what impact can it have on the Turkish Cypriot community, but also and to G/c?

Certainly, the new books will propagate the “two states” policy of the separatist T/C leadership and define the free part of the RoC and the G/C community as a potential enemy like it was done in the previous history text books.

As you know, I, as a retired paediatrician and author of 24 books on Cyprus politics and T/C history, was one of the T/Cs who were denied entry to Turkey on 11 July 2021 according to a list of T/C federalists, a list made in September 2020 before the “Presidential election”. I had also won my case against Turkey at the ECHR in 2003 that started the crossings over the dividing line for the first time after 1974. It must be a political revenge of the Turkish state to put a ban on my entry to Turkey, after the new policy, which brought the separatist Tatar to power in October 2020.

The G/Cs used to make touristic visits to Turkey before the COVID pandemic. I don’t know if they will be allowed to do so, when the “two states” policy of Turkey continues and enmity will be propagated also in the mass media against the Republic of Cyprus.   

 The curriculum taught in T/C schools are very similar to the one in Turkey. All the text books are imported from Turkey. Only the books about the history of Cyprus were written and printed in Cyprus until 2000’s. The author was Vehbi Zeki Serter, who was a chauvinist history teacher and later a member of the governing “National Unity Party” (UBP). Serter’s books were taught for nearly 30 years in the T/C secondary schools and lyceums. They were written with an ethno-centric Turkish nationalist perspective, legitimizing the “national goal” of the T/C community and denying the legitimacy of the “other” community. 

 After the turbulent discussions on Annan Plan, the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) came into power in 2004 and the new Minister of Education and Culture decided to change the history text books. The new text books were written by local T/C teachers, using modern teaching technics of multiple perspectives and critical thinking. The new illustrated text books were far from the previous ethno-centric approach, following new pedagogical methods that encouraged discussion. The new history textbooks focused more on social history.     

Besides the books on history of Cyprus and history of Turkish Cypriots, other locally written books were also introduced: Geography of Cyprus, Human Rights, Traffic and Information about Life. But when the UBP came to power again in June 2009, all these books were left aside since they were regarded as “far from our national identity”. A new commission was appointed by the UBP, comprising of Turkish and T/C teachers of history that prepared new history text books.

This last call from Erdoğan will be the third change of the history text books, taught at the secondary schools and lyceums. It will certainly have an Islamic-fascist perspective, which will be dehumanizing the G/C community as an enemy again.

c) Do you think that the act to change the history books, is placed in a broader context promoted by the Turkish Cypriot Right (UBP, DP etc.) and Turkish government?

 Of course. When we look at the participants of the panel discussion on “Turkish Cypriot History and its teaching”, which was organized on 11 August 2021 in Kyrenia, we see the following directors as speakers of the institutions in Turkey: Directors of the Turkish Historical Society, State Archives of the Republic of Turkey, Ataturk Supreme Institution for Culture, Language and History. The panel was organized on the order of President Erdoğan who wanted history to be used as “a device for building an identity with future values and to reveal the unknown Ottoman history of Cyprus”.

Various speakers addressed the panel by saying that “the T/Cs were the grandchildren of the Ottomans who stepped foot on the island 450 years ago and they needed to know their heritage, religion and history”, as if they knew nothing before and as if no other communities live on our island.

(published in Haravgi newspaper on 12 September 2021 and on /) 






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