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16 April 2014, Wednesday
 
 
Today's Zaman
 
 
 
 
COLUMNISTS 9 April 2011, Saturday 0 0
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ERGUN BABAHAN
e.babahan@todayszaman.com
ERGUN BABAHAN

Diyarbakır and Lefkoşa

I think we fail to attach importance to Turkey’s vital issue as we are watching the developments in the Arab world with excitement. Ankara is in trouble, and it seems, it looks like a problem that has the potential to grow in scope.

In line with the call Abdullah Öcalan made from his prison cell in İmralı, Diyarbakır started to move. But the recently made reforms and the development in the economy have led to Öcalan’s call failing to have the desired effect. The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) is trying to spread Öcalan’s call via mosques and religious references.

Although it was originally established on Marxist foundations, the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), it seems, has finally realized the importance of religion in fighting against the state, which is currently being represented by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). So we should be prepared for news reports about protests held after Friday prayer all across the region.

Starting from Diyarbakır, the PKK will try to create Tahrir Squares in the region. As Tahrir-style protests are not violent in nature, it wouldn’t be easy for the state to resort to violence to suppress them.

Indeed, any violent response to these protests would result in increased interest in these protests and further put the country into a difficult position in the international arena. A similar development is seen in Lefkoşa (Nicosia). The fact that Turkey’s military presence on the island is controversial and native Turkish Cypriots are against Turkey and even want a union with Greek Cypriots will apparently cause much trouble for Turkey. It is no secret that the groups who immigrated to the island from Turkey do not like Greek Cypriots. And they have now started to breed anger against the native Turkish Cypriots, which should be seen as a sign of a new tension in Cyprus.

Although it is working hard to restore peace and stability in a vast geography extending from Libya to Egypt, it is not clear whether the government is sufficiently aware of this development. But the current situation in Lefkoşa is a strong contender for the top issue that might cause trouble for Turkey on an international scale.

Although you may continue to claim that you have gone to the island in order to save them from the Greek atrocities some 40 years ago, a sizable portion of the Turkish Cypriots now prefer to call you “invaders” and seek unity with Greek Cypriots. You cannot suppress them with pressure or violence, and they are very likely to continue if you don’t find a solution.

The primary cause of these demonstrations is Turkey’s recent shutting down of economic aids and starting to support a realistic economic program on the island. The problem is that Turkey is implementing this program with bureaucrats who work like “colonial governors” and who rebuke or humiliate the people of Cyprus at every opportunity, and this complicates things further. The current picture is that Lefkoşa is quickly becoming a problem much bigger than Diyarbakır.

Although we have risked the suspension of our EU membership negotiations, Cyprus may cause a loss of reputation for Turkey in the eyes of the international community, particularly with the EU. Turkey may insist on stressing that it has gone to the island as a guarantor, but it is quickly becoming a country that is unwanted in the island. It is true that the international community is not happy with the presence of Turkey and its soldiers on the island.

The Greek Cypriots and Greece, it can be argued, are happy with these developments and even secretly support them. But this does not alter the reality: If Turkey loses the support of the people of Cyprus, it will not be able to maintain its already controversial presence on the island. Thus, the island is looking like a highly explosive bomb in the hands of Turkey.

This truth should not be ignored amid our efforts to bring about an Arab peace and it should not be sacrificed to the nearing elections.

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