By Stefanos Evripidou
A NUMBER of Turkish Cypriot unions have voiced concern about the increasing number of Turkish nationals being granted ‘citizenship’ of the breakaway regime in the north, creating a new pool of voters ahead of ‘parliamentary’ elections on July 28.
According to Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen, the number of voters in the occupied north has increased by 10,000 in the last four years.
Apart from teenagers who turned 18 and obtained the right to vote, a significant share of the increase has come from those who were granted ‘citizenship’ of the breakaway regime by the Turkish Cypriot authorities.
In 2008, the number of registered voters in the north was 157,302. The following year, 2009, this figure reached 161,373. Four years on, in 2013, the number of voters has increased by approximately 10,000 to reach 171,588, said the report.
According to Yeni Duzen, head of the Turkish Cypriot public servants trade union (KTAMS) Ahmet Kaptan claimed that over 300 ‘citizenships’ were granted last week alone.
Reporting on the same issue, Afrika quoted the head of the Turkish Cypriot primary school teachers’ trade union (KTOS), Sener Elcil, as saying that citizenships were being granted ahead of the forthcoming elections on July 28.
He said these developments were part of the efforts made by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to save the National Unity Party (UBP) from suffering heavy losses in the ‘parliamentary’ elections in the north.
The Turkish Cypriot authorities were forced to call early elections after the ruling UBP saw eight of its ‘deputies’ rebel and attempt to bring about a vote of no confidence.
Turkish Cypriot press reports suggest the eight enjoy the support of Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, who has fallen out of favour with the AKP in Turkey.
Ankara reportedly has put its weight behind the regime’s ‘prime minister’ Irsen Kucuk in the ongoing battle between Kucuk and Eroglu.
Press reports said the eight UBP rebels will join forces with Serdar Denktash’s Democratic Party (DP), further weakening the UBP’s chances and increasing the chances of a DP coalition with the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), the former party of Eroglu’s predecessor Mehmet Ali Talat.
This in turn could open the way for a Talat return in 2015 when Eroglu’s term in office expires.
Meanwhile, UN Special Adviser arrived on the island yesterday ahead of the much-hyped UN-hosted dinner set for this Thursday.
He will meet with President Nicos Anastasiades and Eroglu separately this morning in advance of the dinner, which Anastasiades had previously threatened to boycott unless he received UN assurances that it would be strictly a “social” event and there would be no talk of peace talks.
The newly-elected president has requested some breathing space from the UN to deal with the impact of the devastating economic crisis in Cyprus, which saw the resolution and restructuring of the island’s two biggest banks.