Turkish Cypriot
Chamber of Commerce

Brussels Representation Newsletter

ISSUE 2, JUNE 2013

EU citizens without rights: KTTO Europe Day event discusses the EU from the eyes of Turkish Cypriots.

KTTO organized a seminar on 9 May 2013 on the occasion of Europe Day. Annually celebrated to highlight peace and unity in Europe, since 2004, Europe Day is a bitter reminder for Turkish Cypriots of their unique and unfair position as citizens of the EU without the political, economic and social rights EU citizenship entails and of the failure of the EU to implement its promises to end their isolation.

The seminar featured a number of speakers representing different parts of the Turkish Cypriot people who shared with the national and international guests attending the event their feelings and expectations about living as a “Turkish Cypriot citizen of the European Union”. The audience included the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Dr Derviş Eroğlu, the Leader of the main opposition Republican Turkish Party Özkan Yorgancıoğlu, the Heads of foreign Missions in Cyprus as well as the representatives of the European Commission.

The speakers, including KTTO President Günay Çerkez, Members of Parliament Özdil Nami and Hasan Taçoy, and President Eroğlu, all underlined the enormous burden Turkish Cypriots continue to carry living under political and economic isolation despite the promises made by the EU in 2004 to end their isolation following their affirmative vote on the UN Plan for the unification of Cyprus and joint EU membership.

KTTO President Çerkez opened the event by stating that “as a solution partner of the EU, KTTO took it as its role to offer a platform for Turkish Cypriots to share what they feel about the EU with our European friends.” Çerkez said he wished Turkish Cypriots could be in a position to “celebrate” EU Day, which in today’s state of affairs has almost become an event that “commemorates” the rights they have been excluded from for years.

Çerkez also drew the audience’s attention to the fact that Turkish Cypriots were increasingly losing trust in the European Union having seen that although the EU promised to end their isolation, it was in fact punishing them with its inaction while granting their Greek Cypriot counterparts with even further openings. “As Turkish Cypriot citizens of the EU, we cannot even benefit from the basic rights of Union citizenship. Our business people cannot trade freely with other European markets. Our university students cannot participate in the Erasmus project. What does it mean to be an EU citizen without rights? It means nothing. It is high time the EU stopped allowing the Greek Cypriot authorities to continue their political and psycohological cold war in Cyprus”, warned Çerkez.

TRNC President Eroğlu echoed Mr Çerkez’s words, saying Turkish Cypriots wanted to be fully integrated into the European Union as they felt and acted European. He reiterated his leadership’s committment to both the European Union and the peace process in Cyprus while adding that the Turkish Cypriots were nevertheless disappointed with both processes that continue to leave them out in the cold.

In his speech, Turkish Cypriot Member of Parliament Özdil Nami referred to the ongoing process of the harmonization of legislation in Northern Cyprus, drawing attention to the fact that while ordinary EU Candidate States conduct their EU harmonization activities on the basis of a joint document, the TRNC carried it out independently of such a basis.

Nami also underlined the vital issue of the political representation of Turkish Cypriots in the EU institutions, namely the European Parliament which has so far denied this right to Turkish Cypriots unlike the Council of Europe where Turkish Cypriots can represent themselves through their own freely-elected representatives. “Turkish Cypriots are the only EU citizens who do not have their own representatives who can speak for them at the European Parliament. It is high time the European Parliament acted to repair this democratic deficiency. We hope and expect that the growing support for this among the political groups in the Parliament will soon result in concrete steps to invite Turkish Cypriot representatives to represent their own people”, said Nami.

Another Member of Parliament Hasan Taçoy complemented Nami’s words, emphasizing that it was vital for the issue of Turkish Cypriots’ political representation to be dealt with before the 2014 European Parliament elections. Taçoy also pointed out to the ongoing obstacles facing Turkish Cypriots in the absence of direct trade and direct flights, and underlined that the longer these problems were left untreated, the more difficult to repair the loss of trust in the EU would be.



About Us

Established in 1958, the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (KTTO) is an internationally-recognized organization, representing the Turkish Cypriot business community at home and abroad.  READ MORE

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