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From Afrika, a Turkish Cypriot newspaper that stridently opposes the Turkish presence in Cyprus, 22 April, 2007. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.

IF BOTH SIDES CLAIM TO BE FREE …

By Þener Levent

Many people have wondered why Turkey only occupied half of Cyprus in 1974, and not all of it.

She could have taken the rest if she had wanted, couldn’t she?

She didn’t.

Why didn’t she?

There are probably various answers to this question, but one of these is very important.

If she had taken the whole island, Turkey would have faced a serious resistance movement here.

Greek Cypriots, who now live without seeing the face of a Turkish soldier and believe the “free area” to be genuinely free, would not have remained so impassive in the face of occupation, and would certainly have formed an armed resistance movement.

Like EOKA, which they formed to resist the British imperialists.

Turkey, in not occupying the whole island, prevented this kind of resistance.

She circumvented any such resistance and ensured that it was relegated to the level of diplomacy.

If she had taken the whole island, she would not have remained here for such a long time.

That’s why she did not touch the south.

She moved into the north.

Whose idea was it after 1974 to refer to the north as the “occupied area” and the south as the “free area”.

Whoever had this idea, it stunk.

Can half of a country be occupied, and half a free area?

If a country has an occupier, doesn’t this mean that the whole country is under occupation?

***

Has history known a community, a nation which has been occupied and failed to fight this?

Apart from the Cypriots.

If somebody knows of another example, I would love to hear from them.

What kind of occupation is this that does not meet with resistance?

What makes it differ from other occupations in history?

If the difference lies not in the occupation, perhaps it has to do with us?

A scenario that nipped resistance in the bud was played out here.

The Turkish Cypriots in any case saw themselves as being part of Turkey and thought of her as their motherland, so they did not consider her to be an occupier on the island.

There was no question of them organizing against her and resisting.

They used the term “liberated area” to describe what the Greek Cypriot side referred to as the “occupied area”, and believed that they lived freely here.

In other words, there were two communities on both sides that believed themselves to be free.

Under these circumstances, how was it possible to speak of occupation on the island?

Who was going to organise resistance to the occupation when everybody felt themselves to be free?

In order for the spirit of resistance to awaken, do people above all else not need to feel that they have been deprived of their freedom?

Rather than being crushed under occupation, both communities engaged in a duel of words to prove that they were more democratic.

The Greek Cypriot side said, “We have democracy”; the Turkish Cypriot side, in return, persisted in saying, “The real democracy is over here.”

So, if both sides have democracy, where does occupation fit in?

***

AKEL leader Dimitris Christofias said last week, in an interview with Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot young people:

“If it was not for the foreign powers, in other words if it was for we Cypriots alone to decide, we could reach a solution in a very short space of time.”

I wonder, if Turkey had taken the whole island, would Christofias still make a proclamation of this nature?

Or, at the time of EOKA’s underground struggle against the British, did a Greek Cypriot leader ever come out with such a statement?

Christofias’s words are an expression of Cypriots’ weakness.

This is the weakness of saying, “If we wanted to, could we not do something?”

If he did not believe himself to be free in an occupied country, he would probably not feel at such ease.

Is this the way a leader whose country is occupied speaks?

What a pitiful picture this island paints.

You are free.

We are free.

The occupier is free.

If there is no fire, who is to put it out?

Archive of Turkish press translations by Tim Drayton