Turkish Cypriot opposition party TDP Leader Zeki Celer said on Sunday he would “close all these university-looking places” in the north if he came to power.

He was speaking to Kuzey Kibris TV in light of investigations and arrests made regarding the “fake diploma scandal” in recent weeks, decrying how “society has become so corrupt”.

He added that one of the main reasons for the forgery of degree certificates is “to satisfy people’s egos or to obtain a higher position,” and that this has come at the cost of an “abandonment of quality in the field of education”.

“The motivation behind the current government and [Ersin Tatar’s] boasting that ‘we have so many universities, we are an education island’ has been revealed. We are already perceived as a haven for human trafficking and dark money, and now education has been added to this,” he said.

He added, “if I came to power tomorrow, I would close all of these university-looking places to save us from being embarrassed in front of the world any more.”

He also turned his attention to the matter of future elections and pointed out the low turnout observed during last June’s ‘parliamentary’ by-election.

“We need to question why the rest of the country did not go to the polls. People always say [ruling party] the UBP have so many votes and [main opposition party] the CTP have so many votes that they will win anyway,” he said.

He added, “I experienced this when I was a candidate for Kyrenia Mayor.”

He said all three ruling coalition parties, the UBP, the DP, and the YDP “fought on the field with all their guns” for their joint candidate Nidai Gungordu and the CTP did the same for Murat Senkul, but “I alone with the community behind me received the same votes as the other two candidates.”

“I destroyed this understanding in that election,” he said, having finished in third place in the election but a mere 249 votes behind eventual winner Senkul.

He added, “the party society has not tried in power is the TDP. I said I became party leader because I want to be in government, not in opposition. We will destroy the perception that a vote for the TDP is a wasted vote in the next parliamentary election, just as we did in the Kyrenia municipal elections.”

Celer replaced Mine Atli as TDP leader in February. ‘Parliamentary’ elections in the north must be held by February 2027.