my Cyprus, my Κύπρος, my Kıbrıs

Why don’t you tell people you’re Turkish Cypriot?

Our common halloumi/hellim Credit:

Our common halloumi/hellim

I was 18 years old when a friend of mine asked me this question: ‘Why don’t you tell people you’re Turkish Cypriot’?

In answer to my friend’s question however, my answer was very simple: ‘When you tell people what you are, do you say you’re Greek Cypriot?’

Despite being just 18 years old this was the very beginning of the exploration of my own identity, which in fact began  many years later. However, it seems even then I knew which part was more important and which part I wanted to put more emphasis on. I’m not TURKISH Cypriot, I’m Turkish CYPRIOT. And he’s certainly not Greek Cypriot but Greek CYPRIOT.

On most of our Republic of Cyprus ID cards, it simply says Cypriot. So what’s the problem? If an official document of the Republic of Cyprus is declaring that we’re simply Cypriot and neither Greek nor Turkish Cypriot, why is it so important for some of us as individuals to declare that we’re either one or the other?

In such a fluid world and an even more fluid European Union, where people are constantly moving from one country to the next, how significant has a sense of identity become to us?

In Cyprus, why are we all so obsessed with it and are we right to be obsessed by it? Aren’t we all just Cypriots after all?

I can’t answer this question for anyone else, but I know that I’m obsessed with it (for the moment at least). And despite my claim of simply being Cypriot there’s so much more to it than that and we all know it.

The search for identity – or at least the definition of our individual identity – is very much linked to the inherent desire to belong. We all want somewhere to belong, a place where we feel most comfortable most ‘at home’.

But what if that sense of belonging cannot be achieved in the expected conventional way? Perhaps as a Turkish Cypriot I’m expected to feel that sense of belonging within the Turkish Cypriot community. However, I’m a Turkish Cypriot of Potamia, a mixed village in south Cyprus.

How can I feel a sense of belonging with a community I never knew?


10 thoughts on “Why don’t you tell people you’re Turkish Cypriot?

  1. Sarp KARGI

    “We all want somewhere to belong, a place where we feel most comfortable most ‘at home’.” This definitely hits home, especially for me… But perhaps identity is not about belonging to an external community but belonging to ourselves 🙂

    1. mycyprus Post author

      Hi Sarp interesting comment! 🙂 I think it also comes back to the idea of identity being a social construct and in the wider context of things probably not meaning very much in the end. Also, I think the more comfortable we become in our own skin the less need we have to belong somewhere

  2. Yiannis

    Hi Natalie,

    I would rather call ourselves Greek speaking Cypriot or Turkish speaking Cypriot. Once we start to think like this many of our problems will be solved and also we will have a sense of the community it seems you are seeking

  3. Dora

    I really do get you man. I want to introduce myself and be identified as just a Cypriot, and not “that greek girl”, because I find that I have personally very little in common with Greek people from Greece , but studying abroad each and everytime people ask me : oh, and which part of Cyprus do you live in? Greek or Turkish? Or just, :oh and are you greek? I try explaining the situation and people after 30 seconds just don’t care anymore. I’ve seriously grown tired of it because even after explaining they keep insisting on the question if I’m greek or turkish

    1. mycyprus Post author

      Hi Dora, unfortunately a lot of people abroad just don’t understand the situation here. Some, after an explanation may understand it better but we will always be faced by people who may insist on ‘naive’ questions, because they just don’t get it.

    2. kapios pu eprepe na su apantisi

      Hi Dora.
      Please don’t try to blend in with what is being said here. What you are trying to say of being THE “Cypriot” and not the “Greek Cypriot” girl with no similarities with Greeks you just fool yourself and no one else.
      Of course there are differences with the Turkish Cypriots, and always everyone will refer to them and us as two different kind of people under the umbrella of Cypriots, since there are a lot of cultural and religious differences.

      So PLEASE stop this wrong negotiation message because in the end you just make people who might thought of accepting others SICK and feel disgrace of being Cypriot.

      Everyone should be proud about their history and you just don’t.

      1. mycyprus Post author

        Dear Kyriaco, I totally get what you’re saying but as someone who has lived Greek and Turkish Cypriots from age zero I can tell you first hand that there are in fact very few cultural and religious differences. Yes they are two different kinds of people under the umbrella of Cypriots, but if we want to talk about differences, many of the differences that may have arisen are because Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots have lived apart for so long. I know one particular Turkish Cypriot who prays to the saints, or when passing a church goes and lights a candle. This has more to do with culture and tradition though.

  4. Vas

    Woudn’t agree more.
    We are all Cypriots, we don’t need prefixes.
    We might be Greek Speaking or Turkish Speaking or Arabic Speaking or Armenian Speaking – Above all, we are “Cypriot”.. <3

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