Saturday 12 August 2017

Erdogan’s shadow looms large over Cyprus

By Esra Aygin

The referendum result in Turkey is not expected to have a direct effect on Ankara’s position on, or handling of, the Cyprus problem, but further tension with the EU is a cause for concern.
A majority of Turkish nationals living in the north voted against Erdogan’s constitutional changes with a ‘no’ vote.
“The Justice and Development Party AKP’s Cyprus policy has been stable and consistent since the very beginning,” said a Turkish Cypriot official.
“Turkey supports a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal solution based on political equality. There is no reason for this policy to change due to the referendum. However, the further distancing of Turkey from the EU and from modern, democratic values would be unfavourable not only for Cyprus but the whole region.”
The referendum resulted in the narrow win of supporters of constitutional changes that would greatly extend the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raising concerns about further divisions internally.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, in a message he issued following the referendum, said that he would continue to cooperate closely with Turkey for the solution of the Cyprus problem.
He also underlined the importance of democratic dialogue in Turkey, taking into consideration the narrow margin of the ‘yes’ win.
Political scientist Dr. Bilge Azgin, who agreed that Ankara’s official position on the Cyprus problem is unlikely to change, said, however, that the political scene in the north is likely to be influenced.
“Politics and policies in the northern part of Cyprus are shaped over the relations with those in power in Turkey. Now that Erdogan will be the sole decision-maker and the sovereign ruler, his personal influence in Cyprus will increase. From now on, the whole political scene in the north will be shaped through, and according to, Erdogan.”

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