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H. Tahsin ULUS
METU 2004

"I am not a Turk, nor a Greek, I am just a Cypriot!" This clause is -ambitiously-tried to be spread out among Turkish Cypriot community by the dominant powers since years.

As, mostly preferred, choosing the "negative" description way of identity concept may successfully work in Turkish and Greek Cypriot's identity competition.

Apart from the characteristics of "island life" or "mediterraneanism" there are various matters of daily life or cultural habits which govern from common history in Cyprus. This truth may the consequence of common life under an Ottoman-Turkish culture (May be since Seljuk-Turkish reign) that both nations have supposed to have a historically digested acceptance to each other, through centuries.

From the historical perspective, similar to the attitudes in Anatolia; Turkish and Greek communities had been lived to gather peacefully until the beginning of the 19th century when the effect of the nationalist movements over ethnical identities have transformed to the national identities and reached to the nations who have lived under Ottoman-Turkish reign. Although, Cyprus has been governed by British power since 1878, starting with the Greek revoke, up to the Turkish independence war hostility between two nations has also affected the Cypriots communities. After Lausanne Treaty, Turkish Cypriots who have wished to come to the motherland were permitted, but the ones who stayed in the island have never cut their relations with the motherland and the main culture as well.

Beyond the nationalist movements' blind effect of previous century, the racial relations of Greek Cypriots with Greece have fed the ambition of "enosis" through decades. Thus, when the first British Governor came to the island in 1878, he was welcomed by the Orthodox Metropolitan with hopes of bringing the freedom to Hellenic (!) island of Cyprus; like other Ion islands. But in 1931 revoke, Greek Cypriots burned down the residence of British Governor, for the purpose of enosis. Only when they have taken the case before the United Nations in 1950's by using the less disturbing concept of "self determination ",instead of "enosis", British government has decided to use the Turkish card in order not to loose its hegemony over the island.

After long debates between the delegations, in February 1959 London and Zurich Guarantee and Alliance Agreements were signed, which also conceive the fair applicability of 1960 constitution. Being not satisfied with any solution, rather than "enosis", Greek Cypriots have tried to perforate the Constitutional system in every possibility. The period of years 1963-1974 was full of pain and blood for Turkish Cypriots, slaughtering olds to babies, barricaded roads, prisoned in villages, lowest GPD, lower social statues, not allowed civil services etc.

Paradox of common past and hostility between two nations -or may be two particular symbols of competing religions- can not be observed just from the early meetings of them over Anatolia, though it has repeated in a small but an effective framework in this island.

As it is said so; national communities have characteristics like individuals. Genetic inheritance, experiences and knowledge of nations sometimes play bad games on the world's history records. Intentional misinterpretations, sourced from the fears of nation states, sometimes from the benefits of dominant powers of the period, in order to forward the public opinion, to the wished point, may cause inevitable effects of social emotional explosions. The use of education -and media in the last decade- for the motivation of nations and reforming new identities, against a chosen threat has many examples through the history. There have been wide differences between Bosnia and Kosovo massacres of Serbs who have submitted their attitudes as a revenge of historical "Kosovo War's defeat" of unified Christian forces from Turks and the ones committed against Turks in Cyprus, as until 1963-1974 period there have never been clashes between Turkish and Greek Cypriots in the island. Contrarily the Greek population was released from Catholic pressure by the Ottoman conquest of the island in 1571. Due to Greek Cypriots, beyond the national ties with their motherland, unity of Cyprus with Greece, which has called as "Enosis", had been a main goal through centuries.

On the other hand even all through the British reign Turkish Cypriots have all been n peaceful and loyal citizens and never committed mass-crimes to the Greek community. In this point Turkey's legal"Peace Operation" was justified due to the provisions of 1959 Treaties, so Turkey has never accused for being a invader in any international determination.

After all these seperatives, It might give more sense, to talk about Turks and Greeks living in the Cyprus rather than Cypriots.

As it has obviously examined all through the history; the collective identities of two sides in Cyprus has very sharply separated from each other, so in order to self affirmation there may be no need to describe the "other". Based from the Anatolian experiences there was no need any tools to identify a Turk from a Greek.

On the other hand starting with the music, instruments, cuisine, drinks, traditions, sense of humor and even the outer looks of these two nations may be the most similar ones in the geography through Europe.

Beside those similarities, sharing the same historical experiences and the same geography, there are also several differing points countable on this subject. With very tick definitions; first of all both were represents different but competing religions over the same geography -although Muslim-Turkish support to Orthodox Greeks to protect them from Catholics or especially since 18th century, accelerating support of Russia -as an European power ! - to the Orthodox and/or Slavic nations against Ottoman-Turks have seen through the history-, accepting Turks as ruler elite -though they have freely used Greeks even in political positions in Ottoman state system- and Greeks have the obeying citizens, or defining Turks as bearing the title of conqueror through centuries, but the Greeks have the accepters, etc. are the other factors while suggesting "the other".

If we take the matter from the brooder extent, to the particular geography of Cyprus, beside the detailed differences we can see that the main inheritance of both nations have survived there too.

Contrary to the routine approaches of Turkish and Greek Cypriots, the main break was observed with versions of Annan Plan, which has started to submit to the sides since November, 2002. Like the other United Nation's Secretary Generals, who have worked since the beginning of the matter, Kofi Annan has also offered a plan for the solution of Cyprus matter in the frame of United Nations' mission of good faith. But this time the process has nearly come to a final point as parties and motherlands have all agreed upon the conditions and to take the last version of Annan Plan to the referenda, of which Turkish side was voted positively where the Greeks rejected the plan with a great proportion in the April, 2004.

All harassments of earlier period and pains of Turks after several village massacres of Greeks, even un-breathable position of Turkish Cypriots as they have pressed to the 2,5 percentage of the island before the 1974 operation of Turkey, could not obstruct Turkish Cypriots' intention of living peacefully to gather in the island with Greeks. Why? How can we explain the effects of changing solid stands?

When evaluating the various reasons of Turkish Cypriots attitude, we must also examine several causes beside the European Union' s efforts, like Turkey's changing aspect, United State's application of Middle East program, new stand point of Israel etc. But the main point of this article is to study upon the identities of sides; defining and examining the identities, decide upon the attitude changes, whether they are affective upon the identities and finally European Union's (EU) affords among European Identity.

Here it must be mentioned that; European identity's ideological manipulative effect over some classes or justifying manner through some political groups can not be denied. It may not odd to claim that; Cyprus has been chosen as an experimental sample by European Union- or France-German axe as a main power behind the curtain- for several reasons. More over, benefiting from its strategical importance and natural aim of EU to became a global competitive power-beside USA-; statesmen of the Union were working especially over Turkish Cypriots since after the 1974 operation of Turkey. We can honestly determine that, the Turkish population of TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) has been successfully convinced, not only the beneficial political and economical promises of being a member of EU but also over the psychological effect of European identity as well.

When we analyses the positive attitude of Turks which is contrary to Greeks in Cyprus, in the last referenda which was held a month ago, over Kofi Annan Plan; it was unbelievable. Here we are witnessing the using of economical and political power to persuade the national society to a certain foreign designed direction, by-passing the fresh harassments of bitter experiences of Turks with a motivated interpretation and convincing education of the society by NGO's and international organizations.

Beside the advantage of a recognized member of World society -even undeserved- and a welcomed member of EU, the dislike and fear of Greeks has affected their choice of voting in the referenda.

Here, we have another paradox; both parties have chosen the opposite directions but they have acted with the same attitude by following their feelings rather then being rational. Thus Turkish Cypriots voted positively to the plan which is contrary to all their claims which has been defended since decades and Greek Cypriots voted negatively to the plan which serves most of their thesis, by acting irrational. So it may not be that much odd to suggest that this diverse action was also a consequence of similar attitudes of the similar identities which was directed to the feelings more than wisdom.

Identities transfer from generation to generation by education, starting from the core family education to the cultural, geographical and religious environment, finally, up to the state's political-national education system in brooder extend. So the solid form of Greeks' and motivated Turks' shows the success of EU's identity experiment in the island.

While examining the racial origins of the Turkish Cypriots, it must be determined that, since 14th century there was a limited extent of Turkish commercial population in the island due to some agreements signed between Seljuk Empire and South Anatolian principalities. More over, there was also a reasonable number of Turkopols who were the remaining of Turcoman origined soldiers, worked for the Christian Middle East kingdoms since 12th century. After the Ottoman conquest, beside soldiers who have stayed in the island, great numbers of Turcomans and Yoruks mostly from the Karaman, Samsun -Canik-provinces and Muslim Bosnian, Circassian and Albanian elements also settled in the island, all through the Ottoman reign.

Contrary to the Greek leadership's claims that Turks are the 400 years long visitors of the island, Turkish Cypriots are mostly creators of the historical population source of Cyprus, shaped by Anatolian-Turkish-Muslim origined elements.

On the other hand, beside the "external other", the "internal other" problem has also imported in to the Turkish Cypriot community. Uncontrollable Turkish immigration of lower social and educational classes and different traditional sides of Anatolia has deeply influenced the interior dynamics of closed Turkish Cypriot community in the island. Although cultural and traditional bosom can be obtained with the previous groups up to the end of 80's, out goings and incomings of different ratios have prepared a convenient situation of -at least psychologically- frictions. This condition also bears a possibility of "micro-patriotism" in the Turkish community. So with the same token we can reach another paradox between the people of same race and historical identity.

After a long period of embargoes, economic problems, political aloneness and unbearable burden of unrecognized, isolated position, political pollution and finally Turkish Government's intention of a positive approach to Annan Plan confused the minds especially in younger generations in TRNC. Even in provinces where mostly the Turks from Turkey are settled, like Yeni Iskele province, affirmative votes were more than the negatives in referenda.

Y.Gokalp YIldiz has been summarized obvious foreign motivations in his article. ; "…Sevgul Uludag the journalist of the Yeni Duzen newspaper, that has been published by CTP (Republican Turkish Party), was confessing in her article of 16 July 2002, that "…in order to train the trainers; EU funds and Fulbright, British Council scholarships had been used. British High Commissionaire, Cyprus Fulbright Commission, Political parties' net, Commercial Chamber's net, FOSBO (La Fondation Suisse de Bons Offices), IMTD (Institute for Multi Track Diplomacy), Institute for World Affairs, PRIO (International Peace Research Institute), HasNa, UNDP/UNOPS,UNHCR, Labour Union's Forum had played their roles in organization. Between the period of 1974-1994 several committees had been assembled; like Working group for Solution of Inter- communal Problems, Bi- communal Administrative Committee, Oxford Group, Project Leaders Group I-II (1994), etc. Most of the trainers of today's had been trained by those committees. Since the end of 1997, first; Extended Trainers Group, than Coordination Group which had been formed more than 100 groups, was established. "She was continued "First we have been organized as 30 trainers by Americans, than we have trained 3 thousand, mobilized 10 thousand and finally influence 100 thousand people. More over, Oya Talat who is also writing in the same paper and the wife of prime minister and the leader of the CTP M. Ali Talat, was determined in her article of 29 May 2003 as ; "… With various atelier affords; women have been tried to influence and various activities, especially seminars and conferences has been organized by the help of Fulbright, British Council and EU funds. It has been intended to influence young women in that framework….20 Turkish women have been trained in America by those funds…Demonstrations for the acceptance of Annan Plan has been organized… Those women have taken their places in front of the crowds in those demonstrations." The extension of the influence is obvious, as irrational policies has been added to this scene current position is shaped."

On the other hand, when we look at to the other side of the border, Greek identity which is keeping its solid form and strict relations with the motherland Greece can be examined in all parts of daily life. Even in front of the Makharios Stadium the flag of Greece is at least five times greater than the flags of EU and Cyprus. More over, the power of church and religious identity of Orthodox Christianity is also effective in the South. It may not false to mention that the patriotism which always hand in hand with the religion, strengthens and continues the un-divisive relations in a particular style with the motherland Greece.

Beside non-problematic situation between the Greeks of Greece and Cyprus, they are happier, nova days as at last reach the aim of enosis within the border of the EU.

Contrary to the Turkish side, the economic and social welfare and political calmness both in domestic and international policies have assured a comfortable situation to the Greek side, so there have been no pluses of EU membership, but to satisfy their revengeful ambitions to the Turks. In this point we are being faced with the same paradox of effective feelings over logic in this island of sensations.

Beyond EU membership, which has offered as the best escape from all its historical agony, Turkish Cypriots have also psychologically persuaded by the help of the gap which they observed between the new incomers from the poor and uneducated southern provinces of Anatolia and assumed that they have been more civilized and more proper for the EU membership than their brothers in Turkey.

The decrease in religious concerns of Turkish Cypriot society has also affected the attitudes and the reason of conceivable structure of the community as well

After all those historical determinations with analyses in every step, racial-national-religious-cultural and traditional unity in identities between the motherlands of Turkish and Greek Cypriot, plus very similar identities and shared historical past with each other and again their motherlands, there are several paradoxal attitudes mostly based upon sensations rather than wisdom and competing outlook in every corner of the social-economic and mostly political approaches.

Despite the solid stand of Greeks, modifiable changes in the attitudes of Turks can not be interpreted as a community wide identity change, but it obviously proves that any particular community which discards from caring compassion, ruined by foreign influenced media and NGO's, and lack of careful education system of its own identity can be modified due to the aim of other powers' identities.

Centuries long historical stands of identities can easily be ruined by the works of dominant powers who can reach every individual influence in the accelerated moral free, technology based, media supported policies of today's world. Like policies which are using European identity to persuade Scottish or Irish identities as standing against British identity, to stay with in the frame work; Turkey and Turkish Cypriots tried to convince in order to sacrifice their stand points for the sake of EU membership and European identity expression.


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2. A.Nuri Yurdusev, "Türk Dış Politikası ve Avrupa Birliği Meselesi", Liberal Düşünce, Cilt 2,Sayı,Güz 1997,pg 86-98
3. A.Nuri Yurdusev, "Avrupa Kimliğinin Oluşumu ve Türk Kimliği",Türkiye ve Avrupa, date and publisher are unknown, pg17-85.
4. Ahmet Erdengiz, "Kıbrıs Türklerinin Kökeni", Halk Bilimi Dergisi, Sayı 29
5. Pierre Oberling, "The Road to Bellapais", Social Science Monographs, Columbia University Press, New York, 1982.
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8. M.Akif Erdoğru, "Beyşehir ve Seydişehir Kazalarından Kıbrıs Adasına Sürül-müş Aileler", Kıbrıs Mektubu Dergisi, Ocak 1996,pg 16-18.