Friday, May 8, 2015

An interview by Alpay Durduran (Turkish Cypriot politician)

Interview of Alpay Durduran, Turkish Cypriot politician
For the Declaration of Independence of 15th of November 1983
To Phivos Nicolaides
“POLITIS” Newspaper 5/4/2015
Not only us who opposed but also overwhelmingly Turkish Cypriots understood that the declaration of independence by The Turkish Cypriots on the 15th November 1983 was wrong, harmful and changed the situation toward a wrong direction.
Alpay Durduran, a moderate politician, with sharp mind, perceptive judgment, honesty and passion for Cyprus, as a political leader and today head of the "New Cyprus" party, he recalls.

1. What exactly is about the content of the declaration of independence?

The declaration of independence was a reaction to the developments relating to the Cyprus question. The wording had been going on since 1979, the year of Denktas- Kyprianou talks. But it had received strong reaction from the international community. UN Security Council had warned Turkey against the declaration. Anyway the talks had failed and the Cyprus question had been referred to the UN General Assembly and there was the threat for the establishment of a 6 state committee on Cyprus. Turkey was not prepared to accept such a committee and therefore wanted to react, to prevent it. The situation at that time did not permit the establishment of the committee and the idea have been born dead.

2. What is the date of the signing of the declaration of independence? Who composed the primary wording of the declaration of independence?
Signing the declaration occurred on the 15th November 1983. Turkey composed the primary wording of the declaration which was maintained as it was until the approval.

3. Who was the first person to sign the declaration of independence?

The Declaration was approved by the Turkish Cypriot “legislative assembly”.

4. How the idea of the declaration of independence started in 1983?

In 1982 when the talks failed, the UN and the international community supported the idea to bring the issue to the UN General Assembly. Consultation among the member states concluded that it would be right to establish a committee with 6 member states to review the situation and to make proposals including stationing in the Island. That was a real threat to Turkish intentions. Therefore a hot discussion started in Cyprus and in Turkey. The danger of increasing foreign interventions alarmed both.

5. Who’s mainly idea was?

The idea was Mr. Denktas`s but his force was not enough. It was well known that Mr. Denktas was not happy about the declaration of a federated state and accepting talks on a federal reunification. A declaration of an independent state could be a unanimous declaration of independent (UDI) resulting to the collapse of the intercommunal negotiations would lead to a final confrontation with the international community. He was confident that he will win a solution other than reunification.

6. Was Rauf Raif Denktas the only person involved in writing the declaration of independence?

Such an important move that will result with a declaration could not be initiated by Mr. Denktas. I think that he had only been informed about the move and the declaration.

7. How does Rauf Denktaş explain the reason for the declaration of independence?
Mr. Denktas as always was critical about the federal character of a solution. He was insistent that Greek Cypriots and their motherland Greece will not ever accept a federal solution which might prevent ENOSIS. He thought that there is an international community hearing him therefore in his long speeches he addressed the international community insisting that Greek Cypriots have a hidden agenda different than the ideas conferred in negotiations.

8. Which main political forces were behind this idea?
Some hard line Turkish Cypriot political forces were supporting Mr. Denktas and were critical about Turkey`s guidance related to intercommunal negotiations. Turkey was happy about Mr. Denktas`s leadership because eventually he was following Turkey`s guidance and appreciated his ability to appease Turkish Cypriot hard liners.

9. Which was the role of Turkey towards this situation?

“TRNC” had always full support of the Turkish government. Here we have to acknowledge that the declaration would open a way to save Mr. Denktas as the leader of the community. The “constitution” banned the run for a second term for the presidency of the TFSC. Mr. Denktas could not run for another term. The Opposition was gaining ground and he was in power with a shaky government only.

The military government of Turkey repeatedly made revelations that the “left” gained power and measures should be taken.

Meanwhile after the declaration the “constitution” was suspended and a “constituent assembly” was formed with full control by Mr. Denktas.

10. Were there any political forces in the Turkish side and or in Turkey that resist or disagree with that proposal?
The political left was against a unilateral declaration of independence. Rightly, the left was supporting negotiations and called the declaration as unanimous declaration of independent (UDI) however “ UDI” as a term was banned by the authorities.

Furthermore in Turkey the leftist parties were also opposing the declaration.

11. What influenced moderate forces like your party to vote for independence?

My party was against a unanimous declaration of independent (UDI) and were campaigning against such a move. Just before a week before the declaration a resolution in the general congress was passed and declared to the effect that UDI would be contrary to national interests and harmful to the community. Therefore after threats to its existence the party members in the “Parliament” were it forced to vote for it, it became a humiliation. My party felt deeply insulted.

Mr. Denktas in his memoirs explains how and by what means he suppressed my party to appear as supporting the unanimous declaration of independent (UDI). He confessed that he activated his cell in my party. He said since me (Durduran) and Ozgur were against UDI he ‘activated his cells’ and ‘other nationalists’ to gain support in order to show unanimity.

12. How the proposal passed on (majority) through the “parliament”?

Mr. Denktas and the Turkish ambassador to Cyprus threatened the political opposition of exclusion from either community or political life. There were curfews and the cut of telecommunications. Military vehicles were patrolling around Nicosia. There were angry crowds around and within the “parliament” ready to silence any opposition.

13. What happened to passed it unanimously?

That was a show staged by Mr. Denktas. People believed that Turkey wanted the unanimous declaration of independent (UDI) therefore there was no a real voting. The UDI was read and the speaker of the “parliament” announced that the declaration with sheers and clapping had been unanimously been accepted. He did not ask whether there were any opposing or absenting votes.

Anyway after the voting Mr. Denktas made a speech of thanks and praying for a successful work with the new members to be appointed to the “parliament”. That announcement created angry feelings among the supporters of UDI because appointing new members to the “parliament” necessitated a change to the “constitution” and the appointment by Mr. Denktas of new members would change the distribution of power in the “parliament”. Anyway it was suitable to the interests of Turkey and Denktas only. Those who supported unanimous declaration of independent (UDI) protested Mr. Denktas and the formation of a “constitutional assembly” without any result.

14. Are there were any strong pressures by Turkey?
Turkey decided and executed the whole thing!

15. Have you detected anything suspicious involvement from foreign countries on that time?

On the contrary there were strong condemnations by the UN Security Council and threats from USA. After the declaration I read Mr. Denktas’s explanations that the unanimous declaration of independent (UDI) will not affect Cyprus negotiations because “TRNC” will not ask recognition as an independent state. As he promised after the consultation with USA, UK and Soviet Union Mr. Denktas announced a package of confidence building and called for the commencement of the intercommunal negotioations.

16. Evaluating the situation after 32 years do you think that was this wrong?

Not only we who opposed but overwhelmingly Turkish Cypriots understood that the move was wrong, harmful and changed the situation toward a wrong direction.

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