Turkish Cypriots feel sidelined (The Cyprus Weekly, 18 March 2016)
By Esra Aygin
The ongoing dialogue between Turkey, the Republic of Cyprus and the European Union regarding the migration deal has led to concerns in the northern part of Cyprus that Turkish Cypriots are being sidelined.
A conversation between Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Pre-sident Nicos Anastasiades during last-week’s EU-Turkey migration summit in Brussels prompted Turkish Cypriot media to report a “secret” meeting between the two, adding fuel to the fire.
“Is (Mustafa) Akinci being bypassed?” asked journalist Sami Ozuslu in his column in daily Yeniduzen.
“The increasing dialogue between Turkey and South Nicosia – even if ‘informal’ – is putting Turkish Cypriots, and the elected leader who represents them, in a difficult position,” Ozuslu wrote.
“As a person who believes that such contacts have more benefits than harm, even I don’t approve of the fact that the elected leader of Turkish Cypriots is being sidelined.
“Real peace on this island will only be achieved through the active participation of the two communities. I don’t know whether Akinci has asked for an explanation from Ankara, but…Turkish Cypriots are being bypassed.”
The EU wants a deal with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants in the continent’s worst refugee crisis since WWII.
EU leaders have been involved in shuttle diplomacy between Turkey and Cyprus to overcome the deadlock.
The concern of some in the north is that the interests of Turkish Cypriots may be compromised in negotiations between Turkey, Cyprus and the EU, amidst the urgency and severity of the big picture.
Baris Burcu, spokesperson for Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, said that the dialogue between Turkey and the south is merely about the Greek Cypriot veto on the opening of certain chapters in the Turkey-EU accession negotiations, and does not concern the Cyprus problem.
“We know there are contacts in this regard, and we see these as natural,” Burcu added.
Former Turkish Cypriot chief negotiator and leader of the newly established People’s Party Kudret Ozersay said Burcu’s statements were a “confession” that the Turkish Cypriot side is being bypassed.
A senior Turkish Cypriot official speaking on condition of anonymity however said such concerns were “exaggerated”.
“There are no secret meetings between Turkey and Greek Cypriots,” the official said.
“We are being notified of every single meeting and contact. We are aware of every step Turkey intends to take. We are not being sidelined.”