Two Turkish Cypriots, each from both sides of the divide, who are standing as candidates for the European parliamentary election in May, tell the press why they are doing so.
There are six seats available to Euro MP candidates from Cyprus. Two of which are intended to represent the Turkish Cypriot community. Over 80,000 Turkish Cypriots who hold “Republic of Cyprus” passports are eligible to vote providing they are registered.
Dr. Niyazi Kızılyürek, 59, a lecturer in the Turkish and Middle Eastern Department of the University of Cyprus in South Nicosia, is representing communist AKEL party. Professor Kızılyürek, who knows Turkish, Greek, German, English and French, was elected to the European Cultural Parliament in 2015. In 2006, he was awarded the Order of the Academic Palm-Knight by the French Republic for his scientific work and his contributions to peace.
He says that he does not specifically represent Turkish Cypriots but rather all Cypriots. “I will be struggling for a federal Cyprus and a federal Europe”, he said.
“I don’t want to be elected just because I’m Turkish Cypriot, Kızılyürek said in an exclusive interview with the weekly newspaper ‘Kathimerini’. It is also known that I am a federalist and I have fought for a federal Cyprus. Let me believe that the two communities can live together in peace. At the moment, the distinction is not between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, but among those who do not want to live together peacefully through a federal Cyprus”.
When asked by the Greek Cypriot press why Greek Cypriots would vote for him, he replied that they did not view him as a Turkish Cypriot but as a Cypriot.
Kızılyürek has received a considerable amount of flak from Turkish Cypriot MPs in the North, who say they want their MEP candidate to be someone who represents a party at the TRNC Assembly.
The second Turkish Cypriot candidate for MEP is Sener Levent, owner and Chief Editor of ‘Afrika’ newspaper in North Cyprus.
He said he would join the EP elections as an independent because he did not want to be beholden to any party and he was a candidate to serve the people of Cyprus.
If any party wants to support its own ballot, he said he would welcome it and said that he has written and struggled in Cyprus so far and now he wants to make his struggle international through the European Parliament.
Levent, said that he did not believe that the opposing voice of Turkish Cypriots was reflected on the international stage. He expressed the view that perceptions of the Turkish Cypriot community in the European Union were inaccurate.
He stressed that one of the main reasons for his candidacy was to be able to tell the truth by being in the centre of Europe. “After 1974 I will tell you what really happened in Cyprus. They will hear from me what I have never heard from anyone in the Turkish Cypriot community. Because Turkish Cypriots say one thing, and Greek Cypriot MPs say another”.
In Cyprus, neither in the North nor in the South, is there any party speaking to the spirit, Levent said, adding that he did not think in the same way as the existing parties.
Noting that Cyprus today is fragmented, he said that the political parties have a great responsibility for this. For example, the Greek Cypriot party AKEL, is somehow a communist party, but has nothing to do with communism.
Levent noted that no member of the AKEL party has ever had any direct communication with his newspaper ‘Africa’.
Levent added that he will continue his contacts and next week he will explain the formation of Turkish Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and perhaps Maronites in the ballot paper.
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