The 150-thousand strong Australian Turkish community, including the 20-thousand strong Turkish Cypriot community in Australia have welcomed the democratically elected leader of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, President Ersin Tatar in Melbourne this week. 

The Turkish Cypriots are one of the two distinct peoples living on the Island of Cyprus, and despite Greek Cypriot attempts to deny their existence and rights, they are still strong.  

Turkish Cypriots are suffering under an unjust and inhumane isolation policy, perpetrated by the Greek Cypriots and Greece.  

A political lobbying plan by Greek Cypriot diplomats and ultra-nationalist Greek Cypriot groups in Australia has now also been put in action in parallel to President Tatar’s visit.  

This plan is founded on the concealment of the Greek Cypriot leadership’s past mistakes. 

It is also based on the denial of the existence of Turkish Cypriots on the island and across the world. This plan also includes the deliberate omission of basic historical facts pertaining to the events between 1963 and 1974. 

Historical Context: 

The Cyprus issue, while seeming complex, is in its essence boils down to the Greek Cypriots’ refusal to share political power and wealth, including the Island’s natural resources, with the Turkish Cypriots based on political equality. 

Republic of Cyprus was founded in 1960. Greek Cypriot leaders immediately after gaining independence effectively hijacked the state, excluding the Turkish Cypriots from government organs through force of arms and began a systematic ethnic cleansing campaign against their erstwhile partners. The United Nations had to send a peacekeeping force to protect the island’s Turkish communities in 1964. 

The ensuing period of violence towards the Turkish community had been carried out by irregulars armed and trained by the Hellenic army soldiers. The Turkish Cypriots had faced ethnic cleansing and displacement. This period has been well documented in British archives and open to all interested parties seeking the truth beyond the Greek Cypriot propaganda. 

On 15 July 1974, a right-wing coup backed by the fascist junta in Athens, if successful was going to annex Cyprus to Greece. The Republic of Türkiye exercised its right as a guarantor on 20 July 1974 by landing its peacekeeping forces on the island. 

This right was enshrined in the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee and was also undersigned by the UK and Greece.

Türkiye’s intervention saved the Turkish Cypriot people from annihilation and ushered in half a century of peace. 

The Turkish Cypriots founded the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983. Though currently it remains unrecognized internationally, except by the Republic of Türkiye, the TRNC is a fully functioning independent state. 

Greek Cypriots Refusal of the UN Plan: 

In 2004, the UN’s Annan Plan, negotiated by then the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, for the island’s reunification was put to a referendum.  

Turkish Cypriots overwhelmingly accepted the plan, while Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected it. Despite this, the Greek Cypriots were unjustly rewarded with EU membership, typically barred for nations with unresolved border disputes. The EU’s move rendered a key incentive for Greek Cypriot compromise for a lasting solution nonessential.  

The Turkish Cypriot people have, after half a century of fruitless negotiations, want their sovereign equality and equal international status to be reaffirmed. With all hopes for a fair reunification deal based on founding treaties had been buried by Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots now want their own state to be recognised internationally. 

We, the wider Australian-Turkish community want the isolation imposed on Turkish Cypriots to be lifted. We want Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to become a full-fledged member of the international community and live in peace and tranquility on an island of which they are the co-owners. 

President Tatar was elected on this platform. He is the voice of the Turkish Cypriot people, acknowledged by the UN system as the Turkish Cypriot leader, and he deserves to be heard. 

Anyone with Western values for democracy, freedom of expression, and a belief in the right to self-determination should therefore welcome his visit and hear the voice of the Turkish Cypriots with an open mind. 

We ask Australian politicians and the public to join the Turkish Cypriot community in welcoming the democratically elected leader of the Turkish Cypriots, Mr. Tatar. 

We ask Australia to lead the global community and respond to the pleas of the Turkish Cypriots for an end to the inhumane isolation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. 

Undersigned by: 

Northern Cyprus Turkish Community of Victoria 

Turkish Cypriot United Platform 

Chamber of Australian Cypriot Turkish Professionals 

Northern Cyprus Turkish Association of NSW 

Sunshine Mosque 

Cyprus Turkish Islamic Community of Victoria 

Bonnyrigg Turkish Islamic Cultural Association 

Redfern Islamic Society 

Turkish Welfare Association Inc. 

Turkish Business Network, Psychologists Sub-committee  

Northern Cyprus Turkish Community Elders of Victoria 

Green Island Turkish Women’s Group – Laylor 

City of Whittlesea Northern Cyprus Turkish Women Association 

Australian Ataturk Cultural Centre Inc. 

Sydney Turkish Islamic Culture and Mosque Association 

Australian North Cyprus Friendship Association   

Turkish Association NSW Inc. 

Turkish Cypriot United Platform 

Broadmeadows Turkish Senior Citizens Group 

Nepean Turkish School Inc. 

South Azerbaijan Democratic Turkic Unity 

MUSIAD Sydney 

Australian Turkish Mutual Alliance 

Australian Azerbaijanis Association Inc. 

World Turkish Business Council, Australia 

Gallipoli Turkish Cultural Foundation 

Gallipoli Funeral Fund 

Gallipoli Health Services 

Albion Football Club, Victoria

Gallipoli Turkish Saturday Schools 

Turkish Media Limited 

Turkish Senior Citizens of Western Sunshine 

Homestead Community Women’s Group