Turkish Cypriots held protests in Nicosia recently in opposition to austerity measures being imposed by Ankara on the Turkey-supported territory. In an email interview, Mehmet Hasgüler, an expert on Turkish international relations at the International Strategic Research Organization and Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, discussed relations between Turkey and Turkish Cyprus.
WPR: Why have tensions risen between Turkey and Turkish Cyprus in recent months?
Mehmet Hasgüler: As a matter of fact, tension has always been a part of the relations between Turkey and Turkish Cyprus. A decade ago, Turkish Cypriot grievances toward the Turkish government erupted into a series of demonstrations known as the "Jasmine Revolution," unrelated to contemporary Tunisia's revolution. It aimed to end Turkey's political dominance over Turkish Cyprus. Today's demonstrations, in contrast, aim to protest economic burdens, although certain groups are trying to hijack the process to artificially ignite a new political crisis. The Jasmine Revolution was quite successful, resulting in 65 percent of Turkish Cypriots voting in 2004 for a U.N. peace plan to unite the North and South in a federal structure. The plan ultimately failed, however, as Greek Cypriots rejected it. This caused overwhelming frustration among Turkish Cypriots, many of whom shifted their resentment from Ankara to Greek Cypriots over the failure of the peace process.