Turkish military presence in Cyprus essential

Cyprus’ strategic position in the Eastern Mediterranean, its importance in the field of transport and its wealth and Russian’s position in Syria mean that Turkey would never leave the island to others, Professor Ilber Ortayli wrote in Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’.

Referring to the collapse of the Cyprus negotiations in Crans Montana Ortayli asserted that “it is obvious that in such an environment it would have absolutely no meaning” for Turkey to “evacuate Cyprus and completely leave the island to others” as this will create dangers not only militarily.

According to Ortayli, the second important factor, which necessitates Turkey’s presence in the region, is Israel’s interest in the hydrocarbon wealth around Cyprus. He notes that Israel has “a significant military force” and technologically is the most advanced country in the region. The third reason is that they cannot leave “unattended” an area of conflict such as Syria.

Noting that the Greek Cypriots wanted to demilitarise the whole island, the columnist writes:

“However, even if we change this area, the number and the composition of the refugees, it is not possible to keep it out of military control. No one accepts this. Even the former colonial power which evacuated that place did not accept this and kept bases. We must also have bases there. Now we do not know what will happen. Say that the two communities of the island were unified, we withdrew and left the local Turks side by side with the inhabitants of the south. Do you have any proof as regards the picture which will emerge? Therefore, these are things which will be established only with time and with observation. […] It is very important for Cyprus to live as a cosmopolitan island and a transport hub. […] The Eastern Mediterranean culture is a colourful culture and Cyprus’ Hellenic element is not the only ingredient of this culture […]. Why should we accept that the island will only become Hellenic and European? […]

“There is a Turkish element in Cyprus. It is said that this Turkish element feels antipathy towards Turkey because of the population which had been established there afterwards. These rumours may be exaggerated. Even if they are not exaggerated, the measures to be taken are evident. First we must ensure tranquillity among ourselves. Before the others, we must ensure the balance of the population established on the island. Except for these, there are also 15,000 Turkish emigrants from Bulgaria who came to Cyprus. […] Therefore, it is evident that we have to adjust our policies in Cyprus”.

North Cyprus News - Prof Ilber OrtayliProfessor Ilber Ortayli is a Turkish historian and professor of history at the Galatasaray University in Istanbul and at Bilkent University in Ankara.


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