“I am a child of Anatolia. Everything on me is Turkish. My roots are in Central Asia. I am Turkish in my language, culture and history. My country is my motherland. Cyprus culture, Turkish Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, a common state, all these are nonsense. The Greek Cypriots are Byzantium, they are Greeks, we are Turks. They have their Greece and we have our Turkey”.
The above words were uttered with such pride by the late Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktaş. He was not just the Turkish Cypriot leader but the founder of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC or KKTC in Turkish).
Indeed, very similar words were recently uttered by the current Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar in a Financial Times article: “They are Greeks, they are Christians. We are a different race. We speak Turkish, our religion is Islam, our motherland is Turkey.”
By calling Greek Cypriots, Greek he fails to acknowledge Cyprus’ beauty which undisputedly lies in its diversity: Turkish Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Latins, Maronites and Armenians.
And our motherland is Cyprus.
From the ancient Tombs of the Kings in Paphos to the flatlands of the Mesaoria and the glistening waters of Karpasia, Cyprus is my motherland.
Just like Denktaş once did, Tatar is saying that Cyprus is not enough, calling on his people to pay allegiance to another country that doesn’t even speak in the same way and may not necessarily share the same culture.
Do Turks know what ‘golifa’ is? No. But you know who does? Your Greek-speaking friends across the border as they too call it ‘kolifa’ (κόλλυφα).
Turkish Cypriots do not speak Turkish, they speak the Turkish Cypriot dialect.
Their religion may be Islam however only nominally for most. I dare you to find me a Turkish Cypriot who regularly sets foot in a mosque!*
Their motherland is Cyprus.
Tatar further stated that he wants to ‘negotiate for a fair settlement based on two sovereign states’.
One of the states of which Tatar speaks is certainly not sovereign i.e independent, as a true sovereign state would never allow another country to interfere in its elections.
Tatar’s rhetoric does not represent the majority of Turkish Cypriots and he certainly does not represent their future, our future.
*My point is you can be a devout Muslim or not and still be Cypriot. However, let us not misrepresent or misread the situation surrounding Islam and Turkish Cypriots.