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12° Nicosia,
19 May, 2024
 
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Name dilemma looms in the north

Turkish Cypriot leader suggests ditching ‘north’ in name could help foreigners understand Cyprus problem

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An identity crisis may be looming in the northern part of Cyprus after Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar suggested the removal of a geographical reference in the name of the de facto state would help foreign diplomats evaluate the division properly.

According to local media, Tatar recently said after consultations that the name “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” ought to be shortened to “Turkish Republic of Cyprus” so that there could be equality between the two sides on the divided island.

'There are some contradictions such as restricting myself in the north and not claiming rights in the economic zones 200 miles off Limassol'

“There are some contradictions such as restricting myself in the north and not claiming rights in the economic zones 200 miles off Limassol,” Tatar was quoted saying.

The de facto state in the north is not recognized by Greek Cypriots in the south, who represent the Republic of Cyprus, or any other country except Turkey.

But foreign politicians have been visiting the northern part for formal meetings in recent months, including a group of British current and former members of parliament just last week.

British MP Stephen Metcalfe, who was among those officials, said the group came to understand better “various injustices against the two equal peoples on the island.”

Tatar, who has been calling for a two-state solution to the Cyprus Problem based on equal sovereignty, was scheduled to meet Thursday morning with the new Greek Cypriot leader, President-elect Nikos Christodoulides, who insists on a federal solution based on past UN resolutions.

But before tackling the peace talks that have been ongoing since the mid-sixties, Tatar must also convince his opposition that a name change would reflect the will of the Turkish Cypriot people.

The Turkish Cypriot leader was recently mocked by an opposition representative, CTP deputy Asim Akansoy, who reminded Tatar that “the Turkish Cypriot community is a founding partner of the Republic of Cyprus."

Akansoy said during a Turkish Cypriot Assembly meeting that there was no discussion about a name change, adding “it would be up to the people to decide.”

Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines for half a century, when UN peacekeepers were stationed on the island in 1964 following the outbreak of interethnic violence.

After Turkish troops landed in the summer of 1974, following a short-lived Greek-inspired coup a week earlier, the island became geographically split between a recognized Greek Cypriot south that represents the Republic of Cyprus and a Turkish Cypriot north recognized only by Ankara.

The name “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” was unilaterally declared in November 1983 by the late politician Rauf Denktash, who had previously declared the northern part as “Turkish Federated State of Cyprus” in February 1975.

Greek Cypriots in the south continue to use the Republic of Cyprus as the official name of the state, both a UN and EU member.

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Cyprus  |  Turkish  |  Greek  |  Cypriot  |  Ersin Tatar  |  UN  |  politics

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