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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-06-17

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, June 17, 2003


  • [01] Settlers in the north: a complex mosaic of identity
  • [02] Cypriot in US murder suicide
  • [03] Bangladeshi stabbed to death: cousin arrested
  • [04] June 30 deadline for corruption action
  • [05] Long queues in the sun as Greek Cypriots cross north over holiday weekend

  • [01] Settlers in the north: a complex mosaic of identity

    By Gokhan Tezgor

    MAINLAND Turks (settlers or naturalised Turkish Cypriots, depending on your point of view) have for the past two months been left on the fringes while their Turkish Cypriot friends and relatives cross the Green Line freely into the free areas of Cyprus.

    Many mainland Turks settled on the island shortly after 1974 in an effort by the Turkish government to bolster the population in the north. The settlers were granted Greek Cypriot properties, mainly in remote areas less desirable to Turkish Cypriots, who wanted to live closer to larger population centres.

    The numbers of Turkish settlers, the mainlanders referred to as Turkiyeli in the north, have been a topic of political debate ever since they started arriving on the island.

    Having got married - many to Turkish Cypriots - the original settlers now have grandchildren born on the island: but what is their actual identity; are they Cypriots?

    Their plight may arouse little sympathy among Greek Cypriots - especially the refugees whose homes they took - but in the north it is becoming apparent that they have been the victims of a game played out above their heads. And the Annan plan and opening of the Green Line have brought their status sharply into focus.

    The number of settlers has always been used as a tool by politicians on both sides of the Green Line, with head-counts serving as ammunition.

    Mete Hatay is an independent researcher living in Kyrenia, teaching in universities in the north in between his own studies and musical projects.

    Describing himself as a post-nationalist Turkish Cypriot, Hatay studied at Westminster College in London and has now returned to rediscover his homeland after a seven-year sabbatical abroad.

    Before that, he had worked his was up from food and beverage manager of the Dome Hotel to its general manager, opting from early retirement five years ago to research the people of his island.

    “My detailed research on the cultural history of Cyprus started five years ago,” he said in an interview with the Cyprus Mail, sitting in a Kyrenia café sipping a frappé - a recently imported concept to the north.

    “During my studies I developed an interest in different cultures, away from Cyprus for first time, away from the Turkish and Greekness,” he said.

    Living in London, Hatay started to see the differences and similarities between the people of the eastern Mediterranean.

    “I saw similarities and differences between people coming from a similar region - Armenians, Greeks and Arabs - and all of these people were around us in London,” he explained.

    “I didn’t want to come back to Cyprus, it was too small for me,” said Hatay.

    “When I came back to do my military service, I realised I liked the place again... it was like rediscovering your own country,” and with a desire to listen to peoples’ stories, Hatay started developing his own archive of the people that made up Cyprus’ cultural fabric.

    Through explorations in social history, culinary and musical traditions, Hatay started gaining a multi-faceted understanding, not only of Turkish Cypriots, but all of the various ethnic and social backgrounds of groups populating the island - past and present.

    He has published numerous articles on topics, ranging from slavery in Cyprus, from the Middle Ages to the First World War, to Jews, Maronites and Armenians on the island.

    “Recently I’ve been working on the newcomers on Cyprus after 1974,” said Hatay.

    “There have been a lot of myths about the so-called settlers in Cyprus, like that they were brought here to assimilate the Turkish Cypriot with mainland Turkish culture.

    “This has been the myth voiced by certain parties in Cyprus, on both sides. We had these people around us all the time, we saw them, we worked with them, but we never heard their voices. Why are they here, what do they feel, what perceptions of the Cyprus problem do they have, what political parties do they vote for?”

    Hatay says it is wrong to believe the settlers are all staunch supporters of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    “When I looked at the election results it wasn’t like that. There were different political orientations among these people.

    “They were Alawites, different religious sects, social democrats, socialists, fascists. They were part of an intricate mosaic,” said Hatay.

    “Then I went to the documents and I tried to find their numbers. There has been a lot of speculation on their numbers. According to the Greek Cypriots, there are around 119,000 mainland Turks living in Cyprus.

    “This isn’t true. When I looked at census reports and voter registration cards one by one, I came up with an estimated 50,000 people, including their children who were born on the island,” revealed Hatay.

    According to his findings there are approximately 28,000 original mainland Turks born in Turkey and recorded in statistics between 1974 and 2001.

    “If the mainland Turks are 120,000 and there are only 80,000 Turkish Cypriots, why are there only five Turkish MPs in a 50-seat parliament?” Hatay asked.

    “Of course, these five MPs are not an accurate representation because they are not 10 per cent of the population, they are around 25 per cent of the population. But still, this does prove they do not vote for ethnic orientation. They don’t say, ‘oh, this candidate is from the mainland, let’s vote for him’.”

    Delving into election results, Hatay discovered that in the late 70s and 1980s Turkish settlers were voting for a variety of parties.

    In 1981 the candidate of the left of centre Communal Liberation Party (TKP) almost beat Denktash in the elections. “I saw a lot of mainland Turk dominated villages voting for this candidate. So with the help of the mainland Turks, Denktash was almost overthrown,” he said.

    The variation in voting habits is due to the varying political backgrounds and ideologies. “They are not an army of political clones, they have their own conflicts and a lot of them are assimilated into Turkish Cypriot society.

    “A lot of people who settled here in 1974 came from the southeast, the Hatay region, and they were mainly social democrats voting for the Republican Peoples’ Party in Turkey, and here they started looking for a social democrat party,” said Hatay.

    Other than Turkiyeli, mainland Turks are described by two other epithets in the north, neither of them complimentary.

    One is Gadjo, a Gypsy word to describe non-Gypsies, now often used by Turkish Cypriots as a derogatory term for mainland Turks.

    The second is Karasakal, or “black beard”, a word used by Turkish Cypriots in the 1960s to refer to Turkish military officers stationed on the island.

    “They would not have the opportunity to shave for a couple of days, so they would grow a short dark beard, it wasn’t considered an insult then, it was a sort of reference to the macho Turks,” said Hatay. But since 1974, the term has become an insult.

    After the invasion, Turkish Cypriot from the south were loath to live in remote villages like Rizokarpaso or Akanthou. So mainland Turks were imported to the island to live in these villages and cultivate the land.

    “They continued with this policy since 1977, and between 25,000 and 30,000 Turks came, were given lands and houses, but not title deeds.

    “They were there to look after the houses and cultivate the land, they were just the guardians, but in 1995 were given title deeds,” said Hatay.

    “Of these 30,000, some went back because they did not find what they were expecting,” he added.

    Hatay said other settlers had moved to Cyprus simply to find jobs, or attended university and married in Cyprus.

    “A lot of them were born here and assimilated into Turkish Cypriot society. And the ones who kept their traditions and customs in these remote villages are not causing anybody problems, they have their own way of life... they have become a part of the cultural fabric of the island.

    “But Turkish Cypriots having been a closed and isolated community for years, especially in the 1960s, suddenly found themselves all together in the north facing these newcomers, and they reacted,” said Hatay.

    The Turkish Cypriots’ rejection of the settlers in recent years was primarily because they were immigrant workers. “There are a lot of workers coming here because there is a demand,” he explained.

    “The prejudices are mainly a reaction from the petty bourgeois, who, ironically, are the ones who employ them. The image of this slave labour - the immigrant worker - is disturbing their European image, since they claim to be European,” said Hatay.

    Most of these labourers work under extreme conditions, up to 15 hours a day without proper accommodation, exploited by Turkish Cypriots and Turkish businessmen, according to Hatay.

    “They are looked down upon, and then this image projects on to the mainland Turk, and a stereotype is formed,” he said.

    As to the future of Cyprus, Hatay does see a common identity emerging: “There is a parallel Cypriot identity being formed, Turkish Cyriotness and Greek Cypriotness, but it will take time.

    “This will come after a solution, where people will have to respect the differences between them, because these two identities have certain bases, a different language, different religion. So once we accept the difference, we can have a civic identity later in a new common state if we have a solution, rather than putting ourselves into blocks and having this obsession of being Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot,” said Hatay.

    “But I’m not optimistic, because we still need to work on becoming a human beings, respecting non-Cypriots, we have to stop being the egotists of our own victimisation.

    “Nationalism is not that bad, but a nationalism that excludes people, that is obsessed with your identity, is dangerous, you have to be more inclusive. Include and respect peoples’ rights and their cultural identities.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, June 17, 2003

    [02] Cypriot in US murder suicide

    By a Staff Reporter

    A GREEK Cypriot man living in the United States killed his former Greek- American partner of 10 years and shot himself at a diner in New York state on Sunday.

    Demetris Zodiatis, 39, shot and killed mother of three Archontoula Yiannacopoulos, 47, at the ‘Oasis’ diner that she owned in a town called Patchogue, shortly after 6.30am.

    According to reports in American newspapers, Yiannacopoulos arrived for work at around 6.25am and unlocked the door to let the cook inside.

    Moments later, her estranged boyfriend Zodiatis, known as Jimmy, entered the diner carrying a flower box from which he pulled a shotgun.

    After a struggle, Zodiatis shot and killed Yiannacopoulos and then turned the gun on himself.

    According to Newsday, police found their bodies, with gunshot wounds to their heads, lying within 15 feet of each other on the diner floor. They had lived together for more than a decade until Zodiatis moved out last month when they broke up. At the time, Zodiatis had threatened suicide.

    Employees and relatives of Yiannacopoulos were stunned by her death.

    “She was one of the greatest people you ever met,” Colleen Selvaggio, a former employee told Newsday. “She was a very sweet lady, a very dedicated mother, a good friend.”

    Yiannacopoulos had two sons, Billy and Bob, and a daughter Patty who was scheduled to be married in the next few weeks, police said. Zodiatis had been staying with friends since the break up, they said.

    Jose Escobar, 33, a cook at the Oasis, who had come in with Yiannacopoulos, was in the kitchen when the shooting took place.

    He came out when he heard yelling and screaming from inside the restaurant, and saw Yiannacopoulos and Zodiatis “locked almost in an embrace”.

    “I saw he had something in the hand, I don’t know what it is,” Escobar said. “The boss told me to get out.”

    Escobar said he ran out to a petrol station next door, where the attendants called police but by the time anyone arrived the couple were both dead.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, June 17, 2003

    [03] Bangladeshi stabbed to death: cousin arrested

    By a Staff Reporter

    A 21-YEAR-old Bangladeshi man has been remanded for eight days in connection with the premeditated murder of his cousin, police said yesterday.

    According to a police bulletin, 31-year-old Yusuf Mohammed, an immigrant Bangladeshi worker, was stabbed to death in the early hours of Sunday at the rented accommodation he shared with his 21-year-old relative in Limassol’s Ayios Athanassios district.

    Police said that about 1.15am, the pair’s landlady was awoken by loud voices and commotion coming from the yard. On going outside to investigate, she discovered Mohammed lying in the yard, bleeding from wounds to his stomach and head. The victim reportedly told his landlady that his cousin had stabbed him. Mohammed was rushed to Limassol General Hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival.

    The suspect, who was known as ‘Alexis’, was arrested at 4.30am, after he was found wandering around the Ayios Athanassios area on foot, close to the scene of the murder. He was remanded in custody and appeared before a court in Limassol at 8am on Sunday.

    The court heard that relations between the cousins -- who worked on the same poultry farm -- had been strained recently, and the two men appeared to have quarreled over money.

    Forensic pathologist Eleni Antoniou concluded on Sunday that Mohammed died from eight wounds to the head and stomach. She confirmed Mohammed had been stabbed with a large kitchen knife, found at the scene of the crime.

    Limassol CID are continuing investigations into the murder.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, June 17, 2003

    [04] June 30 deadline for corruption action

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRUS has until the end of the month to respond to a 2001 Council of Europe (CoE) report inviting the island’s authorities to show that they have implemented recommendations to combat corruption.

    In December 2001, the ‘Group of States against corruption’ (GRECO) issued a report on the phenomenon of corruption in Cyprus, detailing recommendations to strengthen the fight against corruption. The report also called on authorities to present a report on the implementation of the recommendations before June 30 this year.

    One of the proposals outlined in the report was adopted in March, a month after Tassos Papadopoulos was elected President in February. The report urged that a “system should be established for the declaration of assets and interests of high State officials,” including those of members of Parliament, the President of the Republic and ministers. The assets of the President and his ministers were made public on March 15, fulfilling a pledge by Papadopoulos that members of the Cabinet would state their finances upon assuming their offices.

    GRECO also advised authorities to establish a specialised body to advise on anti-corruption policy, “elaborating proposals for legislative change” and making suggestions for “the elimination of the conditions that enable or facilitate corruption.” The government is expected to inform CoE representatives that such a body will be created, made up of representatives of the Legal Service, the Justice Ministry, the police, as well as the head of the House Legal Affairs Committee, and the presidents of the Pancyprian Law Association and Cyprus Chartered Accountants’ Association.

    Reports also suggest the Council of Ministers has approved a proposal to amend the law to oblige civil servants to report any suspicions of corruption among colleagues, as recommended by GRECO.

    Other GRECO recommendations include the relaxation of restrictions on the use of electronic surveillance (such as telephone-tapping) to a level permissible by the European Convention on Human Rights, and an increased effort to raise awareness of the link between money laundering and corruption.

    The evaluation report notes that Cyprus was one of the first countries to sign the Criminal and Civil Law Conventions on Corruption in January 2001.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, June 17, 2003

    [05] Long queues in the sun as Greek Cypriots cross north over holiday weekend

    By Sofia Kannas

    THOUSANDS of Greek Cypriots crossed the Green Line to the occupied areas over the Kataclysmos holiday weekend, police said yesterday.

    Almost 9,500 Greek Cypriots visited the north on Sunday, while 5,551 Turkish Cypriots had crossed from the four Green Line checkpoints of Pergamos, Strovilia, Ledra Palace and Ayios Dhometios by midnight.

    By midday yesterday, 820 Turkish Cypriots had travelled to the south, mostly via the pedestrian checkpoint at the Ledra Palace in Nicosia, while 3,942 Greek Cypriots had made the journey to the occupied areas.

    By 4pm, about 3,500 Greek Cypriots had crossed to the north via the Ayios Dhometios checkpoint alone -- open only to cars -- with delays occurring due to the volume of traffic waiting to cross the dividing line.

    A police officer at the checkpoint told the Cyprus Mail the holiday period had led to an increased number of cars travelling to the north, as waiting times approached one and a half hours. “You can expect to wait in queue between an hour and an hour and a half,” he said.

    With temperatures reaching the high thirties this weekend, the wait has been uncomfortable.

    “Most people bring water to drink with them, as they wait, but some go to nearby kiosks and get some. Although, we will provide water for anyone who asks for it,” the officer added.

    He stressed that apart from the discomfort of waiting in the hot sun, crossings were running smoothly. Scenes at the checkpoint yesterday were only vaguely reminiscent of the crossing chaos witnessed at checkpoints in the first few weeks following the lifting of the barriers in April, when thousands of Greek Cypriots waited in their cars for over 24 hours to access the north.

    More than 280,000 people, equivalent to 35 per cent of Cyprus’ total population, crossed the Green Line in the 14 days after Turkish Cypriot authorities eased restrictions on freedom of movement on April 23 for the first time in 29 years.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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