Monday, July 28, 2014

What about Turkey and Cyprus?‎ | Uzay Bulut

What about Turkey and Cyprus?‎ - 28 July 2014, Israel Hayom
Uzay Bulut is a freelance journalist based in Ankara.

On July 20, two important incidents were reported by the Turkish Radio and Television ‎Corporation, the country's national public broadcaster.‎

The first report covered how Turkish officials, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were bashing Israel, the ‎‎"oppressor," for initiating a military operation in Gaza. Of course, there was no mention of this being a response to hundreds of rockets fired into Israel by Hamas.‎ It also did not come as a shock that the broadcast did not utter a single word about Hamas aiming at civilian areas in Israel, rejecting a cease-fire offer that had been accepted by Israel, and using its own people, including children, as ‎human shields. ‎

Because of the biased reporting by both pro-government and anti-government media ‎outlets, the people of Turkey have been almost clueless about what actually has been going on in ‎Israel and Gaza since July 8. Thus they have held repeated angry mass protests in the ‎streets and on social media.‎They even poured cans of Coca-Cola into the streets, seemingly believing that the relatively small Coca-Cola plant in ‎Israel supplies all the Coca-Cola in Turkey. But reality doesn't matter for these geniuses. There is no limit to the things one will do if motivated by pure and unadulterated hatred. ‎

The second report was about Turkish officials celebrating the 1974 Turkish ‎invasion, colonization and ethnic cleansing of northern Cyprus. ‎

Of course, their wording was not like that. They referred to the invasion as "a peace ‎operation," just as they have done for 40 years.‎

It is hard to believe but it is true: The Turkish invasion of Cyprus is officially celebrated ‎by Turkish officials as "the peace and freedom festival."‎

And Erdogan, in a letter to Dervis Eroglu, president of occupied northern Cyprus, ‎said: ‎"The peace operation has helped the Turkish Cypriot people look to the future with hope and ‎trust and has laid the foundations of peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean."‎

As the whole world witnessed, what Turkey did in 1974 and still celebrates is the planned executions, deaths, destruction, massive ethnic cleansing and ongoing cultural and demographic rape that it has committed in Cyprus.‎

What happened was an invasion, and Turkey remains an alien invader in Cyprus. History tells the story: Cyprus has been Hellenic for 3,500 years and Christian for 2,000 ‎years. Never did the Turkish Cypriot minority, during its brief presence on Cyprus, ‎hold on to any contiguous part of the island. From 1,500 BCE into the 20th century, the occupied north, like the entire island, was always Greek, and later, Christian.

But the destruction that Turkey caused was not only measured in human life. It did and still ‎does damage the Cypriot cultural heritage in the occupied part of the island.‎

It has plundered and systematically destroyed religious property, which has been a particular ‎target in an attempt to eradicate the cultural identity of the occupied area. Greek Orthodox ‎churches continue to be converted into mosques, vandalized or turned into entertainment ‎centers, livestock pens, barns, pubs and clubs. ‎

The Turkish government, denying these basic truths, celebrates the invasion and colonization of ‎Cyprus while bashing Israelis for protecting themselves from rockets and terrorist attacks in the homeland to which they have returned and where they have a historical and ethical right to stay.‎

When it comes to the allegations of using "disproportionate force," Turkey should ‎be the last one to condemn others; it has rich experience and great expertise in the very crimes that it projects onto others. ‎

Is it not ironic that on the same day that Turkey celebrates a "peace" operation, an invasion as far ‎as the rest of the world is concerned, which killed thousands, destroyed cultural treasures of ‎immense historical value, displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and ethnically cleansed ‎the northern part of the island by force, it condemns Israel's military operation in Gaza, calling for all ‎sorts of punitive measures to be taken against the Jewish state?‎

The difference, we will most likely soon find out, is that Israel will withdraw after it has ‎achieved its stated objective to put a stop to the constant rocket firing from Gaza. ‎Turkey, 40 years later, remains engaged in a monumental exercise to change the demographics of ‎the part of Cyprus that it continues to occupy, having failed to fulfill its own stated objective to ‎restore Cyprus' constitutional order, and stands in constant violation of the very legal basis ‎it used as a pretext to invade by not recognizing the Republic of Cyprus. ‎

The rest of the world might call this hypocritical.‎

Uzay Bulut is a freelance journalist based in Ankara.

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As either unitary state or federation solutions are discussed as replacements to Cyprus' 1960 and Turkey's 1923 unworkable constitutions, should we abide by "if a right is a right too many for Turkey's Kurdish community (circa 23% of population) then that right is a right too many for Cyprus' tCypriot community too (circa 15%), and vice versa." Is the adoption of this fair logic the catalyst to securing just solutions for both UN countries.