Turkish Cypriot leaders say gains by far-right party in Cyprus justify two-state solution

The leaders of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said that recent gains by a far-right party in Cyprus’ parliamentary elections justify the need for a two-state solution for the divided island, the Cyprus Mail reported on Monday. 

Speaking to Turkish state-owned Anadolu news agency on Monday, TRNC President Ersin Tatar expressed his belief that the results of Sunday’s elections in Cyprus prove Turkish Cypriots cannot live in peace if the country is unified. 

“I see that these election results once again confirm what we say that there could no longer be an agreement on the federal base in Cyprus,” Tatar said.

Tatar stressed that the improvement in the standing of the “anti-Turkish” far-right National Popular Front, or ELAM, was emblematic of what he sees an increasingly intolerant, extremist trend taking root among the Greek Cypriot population.  

“ELAM and its supporters back the view of a single state in the whole of Cyprus,” Tatar said. “We see that a mentality is rising that does not even consider that the Turkish Cypriots deserve the right to be a minority. The most frightening thing is that ELAM gets its votes from the youth.”

Tatar went on to attribute a rise in popularity of nationalist parties in Cyprus to an educational system that he says focuses on a Greek identity for the country and the idea of a union with Greece, a concept known as enosis. The TRNC leader said this contributed to ELAM’s rise in popularity among youths in the south, and this is something that concerns him. 

After all of the votes were counted on Sunday, ELAM secured four new seats in the Cypriot parliament after winning 6.8 percent of total votes. The ruling Democratic Rally Party of Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades maintained control, but ELAM managed to double its performance in Sunday’s race from the last election in 2016.  

Ersan Saner, the TRNC’s prime minister, issued a statement, calling ELAM “an enemy of the Turks”, but added that all Greek Cypriot parties shared goals that were unacceptable for the TRNC. These included full withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus, abolishing Turkey’s right for unilateral military intervention and possibly surrendering land to Greek Cypriots.

The small island nation is a member of the EU, but it has been divided in two since a Turkish invasion of its northern half in 1974. Only Turkey recognises the TRNC as an independent state and has increased international calls for a two-state solution for Cyprus.