The only surprise about the report, drafted by a small team of Turkish Cypriots, was the extent of Turkey’s interference in last year’s ‘presidential elections’ in the north. The interference was extensively reported by Turkish Cypriot media and politicians at the time, but the nature of the threats made to Mustafa Akinci and his family, by people allegedly representing the Turkish intelligence service MIT, were not known.
According to the report, the people claiming to be MIT agents told Akinci’s private secretary, Cenk Gurcag, “it will be the best for him, his family and his close colleagues to withdraw his candidacy…” Another group of people from Turkey, sent a threatening message to Akinci through the head of the journalists’ union Ali Kismir. “If Akinci is elected he will have very bad things happen to him. Something will happen to him… we do not know what that might be,” Kismir was reportedly told.
The threats and intimidation were appalling, but also an indication of the Turkish government’s determination to get rid of the Turkish Cypriot ‘president’ who was his own man, refusing to bow to Ankara’s diktats on the Cyprus problem. As if this were not bad enough, he had challenged Turkey’s hegemony over the north and been critical of President Erdogan’s views and choices in public. More importantly though, he remained committed to a federal settlement which Ankara had quite clearly given up on.
With Ersin Tatar now obediently doing Turkey’s bidding there is no common ground for talks or another conference on the Cyprus problem let alone the start of any type of negotiations. Crans-Montana will be the great missed opportunity for a federal settlement, for which the responsibility belongs largely to President Anastasiades, who, at the time, was much more interested in his re-election than agreeing a deal that would lead to sharing power with the Turkish Cypriots. As the last April’s five-party conference showed, there is no going back to the point the talks stopped in Crans-Montana.
As for the Turkish Cypriot community, the report about the interference merely confirmed what they already knew. The north is now under even tighter control by Turkey than it had been, with Ankara having imposed its ‘yes man’ as the north’s ‘president’. Although the occupied area has not been annexed – it may take some time before this happens – it is already becoming more like a Turkish province run by an Ankara-selected governor. Perhaps the next time there are ‘presidential’ elections there will be no interference by Turkey, because there will only be one candidate.