Saturday, 13 May 2023
With the presidential elections in Turkey taking place this Sunday, some have begun to wonder if a change of leadership in Turkey will affect the Cyprus problem.
According to British daily The Times, 74-year-old Kilicdaroglu, who has managed to pull together a broad coalition of parties, is forecast to win outright with 51.7 percent of the vote.
Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Political Science and International Relations Department Head and EMU Cyprus Policy Centre Director Prof. Dr. Ahmet Sözen, said it was not very useful to look at electioneering statements made by the main two candidates, incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and main opposition leadership challenger Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
Sözen drew attention to the fact that political figures use rhetoric that “will tend towards enmity and national feelings” during election periods. Turkey is very deeply divided between Erdogan loyalists and secular voters. He did not think that the policies of both sides towards Cyprus would differ very much.
“Yes, on the one hand, there is the interview given by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s Foreign Policy Advisor Çeviköz, on the other hand Kılıçdaroğlu has remarks towards Tayyip Erdoğan regarding his visit to Greece. This is a symbol that shows that it will not be too soft towards Cyprus. This is exactly why I think that the rhetoric during the election period should not be taken seriously. Frankly, whether Kılıçdaroğlu wins or Erdogan, after the elections, I do not think that the policies of the two sides will be very different, especially in the developments regarding Cyprus”
In an opinion piece published in July 2021 by online newspaper Ahval, covering the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s one-day visit to North Cyprus, the author wrote the following:
“He [Kılıçdaroğlu] met with several senior officials but cancelled an appointment with Mustafa Akıncı, former president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), at the last minute. Akıncı said he and his family had received threats from Turkey’s intelligence agents amid pressure to withdraw his bid to become president of Northern Cyprus at elections in October. He narrowly lost the election.
“Kılıçdaroğlu’s statements during the visit caused great disappointment. The CHP is a political party with close ties to Cyprus. Former CHP leader Bülent Ecevit served as prime minister during Turkey’s 1974 military intervention in Cyprus. Ecevit has a very special place in the hearts of Turkish Cypriots. Unfortunately, Kılıçdaroğlu’s visit once again damaged these “historical ties”.
“During his visit, Kılıçdaroğlu lent his support to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s policy that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) should be recognised as an independent state. He said the Cyprus issue is a national cause for all political parties in Turkey and that there were no differences in policy when it came to the TRNC’s legal status”.