Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Akel MEP calls on EU to help preserve Turkish Cypriot identity

Niyazi Kizilyurek

AKEL MEP Niyazi Kizilyurek has asked the European Commission how it intends to help the Turkish Cypriot community whose demographic make-up is being altered because of the increasing number of naturalisations of Turkish settlers.

The MEPs’ office on Monday announced that Kizilyurek, in a question he submitted to the European Commission, said that that for many years the Turkish Republic has been controlling the northern part of Cyprus, which is EU territory, and Turkish Cypriots, who are EU citizens.

Over the last few years, an increasing number of incoming Turkish settlers have become naturalised, thereby altering the political profile and demographic make-up of the Turkish Cypriot community, he said.

“A political party made up of settlers alone has already come into existence and Turkey is bringing pressure to bear on the Turkish Cypriot authorities to step up the pace of naturalisation.”

Aside from the political issues at stake, Turkey is consolidating its economic foothold using unfair methods that fly in the face of any notion of fair competition, Kizilyurek added.

He also accused the Turkish government of waging a cultural war on the secular traditions of the Turkish Cypriot community in a bid to impose religion on all walks of public life.

“As a result of these hostile actions, the Turkish Cypriot community (the smallest community in the EU) is being threatened by assimilation and integration with Turkey,” Kizilyurek said.

He asked the Commission whether it intended to effectively frustrate Turkey’s schemes “so that the Turkish Cypriot community can survive with its own identity and dignity as a component of the Federal Republic of Cyprus”.

Reports last week said that the new European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in response to Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci’s congratulatory letter on her appointment, expressed her readiness to talk with him on issues concerning his community.

The construction of more mosques in the north, especially the massive Hala Sultan mosque, erected just outside Nicosia in the north, has been opposed by many Turkish Cypriots who see it as an attempt by Turkey to exert its influence and threaten their secular lifestyle.

The Turkish Cypriot population issue was prominent in news last spring with Akinci calling for a census after being told that the population was 350,000, almost double what he had been some four years previously when a figure of 220,000 was recorded as being the official number for the purposes of a federal solution to the Cyprus problem.

To help prepare for reunification, the EU launched an aid programme to the Turkish Cypriot community in 2006 to help the community develop infrastructure and prepare Turkish Cypriots for the implementation of EU law once a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue is agreed.

 



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