We are together with the people of Varosha
Spokesperson for the Famagusta Initiative Dr. Okan Dağlı spoke to Word From Cyprus regarding the closed area of Varosha and assessed the recent developments.
Dr. Okan Dağlı spoke on the relationship between the two communities at the island before and after Covid-19 and also spoke on the upcoming Turkish Cypriot leadership elections in the north of Cyprus.
Q: Recently the opening of Varosha has been on the agenda at the island. How do you think Turkish and Greek Cypriots should respond to the authorities regarding this subject?
A: I say this every time, we are together. We are together with the people of Varosha. The Bi-Communal Famagusta Initiative wrote a letter and will make a declaration regarding the issue of Varosha this week. The Famagusta Initiative and the Famagusta Our City (Αμμόχωστος, η πόλη μας) organization, organized a lot of activities which included over 5000-6000 people, which also resulted in the opening of the Agios Georgios church in Famagusta after 58 years in 2013. The Famagusta Initiative and Famagusta Our City (Αμμόχωστος, η πόλη μας) continued such activities until of course Covid-19 emerged. Aside from the many more activities we did together, the Famagusta Initiative and Famagusta Our City (Αμμόχωστος, η πόλη μας) also created projects on how the two communities can live together at Varosha and generally the big Famagusta area. The specific areas within Famagusta such as Engomi, Salamis etc. are like puzzle pieces. When put together these pieces, Famagusta can become an important part of a solution. If people can live there together, maybe Famagusta can become a sort of test laboratory for a wider solution in Cyprus.
Q: This was the situation before Covid-19. Over the years, a strong relationship has been built between the two communities at the island. How has Covid-19 affected this relationship?
A: Very negatively. Especially after the opening of the Deryneia checkpoint 2 years ago, the two communities became remarkably close. Greek Cypriots could come to Famagusta from the south with bikes for shopping. Turkish Cypriots could go around the south in the afternoon and easily return to Famagusta. This made a lot of Turkish and Greek Cypriots begin to feel that Famagusta could restart a possible reunification. Also, economically speaking, a lot of Greek Cypriots would go to Famagusta for their shopping and a lot of Turkish Cypriots could go to Ayia Napa for a drink in 10 minutes. The people were together in many areas, for instance in cultural centers, shopping centers, cinemas etc. Unfortunately, after Covid-19 began in Cyprus and generally around the world, everything collapsed. However, contact between the two sides continues because of things like the internet and other means.
Q: Another subject part of the agenda in the north of Cyprus are the upcoming elections. How will these elections affect the Cyprus Problem?
A: Currently there are 11 candidates. However, the polls show us that 3 candidates have the chance to go on to the 2nd round. One of them is Mustafa Akıncı, who supports the idea of a Federal Cyprus as a solution. The 2nd candidate is Tufan Erhürman who is part of the CTP party, who also supports the idea of a Federal solution in Cyprus and the reunification of the island. Lastly, Ersin Tatar, who is part of the nationalist party UBP. These polls show us that for the first time, there is a chance that 2 pro-solution candidates [Akıncı & Erhürman] could go on to the 2nd round of the elections in the north of Cyprus. This means that over 50% of Turkish Cypriots will give their votes in favor of a Federal solution in Cyprus. These two candidates have said that they are ready for a solution in Cyprus. If this happens this is a big positive sign regarding the Cyprus problem. Again, for the first time in the history of north of Cyprus 2 pro-solution candidates have the chance to go onto the 2nd round of the elections.
Q: What is one final thing you want to tell Cypriots before the end of our interview?
A: We have always supported a unified Cyprus. The idea of a single identity and peace in Cyprus. We can live together with equality and control our island. If we do not do this, other countries, imperial countries will control us. If a solution is in our hands, we must take this opportunity and I ask all Cypriots to support a Federal Cyprus.
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