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There is a non-Arab Middle Eastern country that has occupied foreign territory by force for more than three decades — and nobody else recognises that occupation. That same country has denied its national minorities such basic rights as cultural autonomy and has prevented them from using their own languages. A ruthless war has been raging against a self-appointed national liberation movement, which it calls terrorists. Not infrequently, it has launched brutal cross-border raids in pursuit of the said "terrorists", without bothering to ask its neighbours for permission. And it has blockaded a landlocked neighbour as punishment for a long-standing conflict tinged with the memory of a genocide that the blockading party denies ever happened.

If you thought I was describing Israel you'd be wrong: it's Turkey.

Turkey occupied Northern Cyprus in 1974, later supporting a separate Turkish-speaking republic there that is recognised by no one except Ankara.

Turkey has also fought the Kurdish PKK in a ruthless war that has seen tens of thousands killed. While fighting the PKK — in Iraq — Turkey has been reluctant to recognise Kurdish autonomy at home. Not only is separatism not indulged but the very notion of a separate Kurdish identity is dismissed. Kurds cannot teach and learn in their own language, while their national identity is routinely suppressed.

Turkey is reluctant (to put it mildly) to confront its past and still won't accept its genocide against the Armenians.

Now comes Turkey's harsh criticism of Israel, before and after the Gaza flotilla incident in June. You may notice a tinge of hypocrisy. 

Naturally, Turks of all political stripes will object to at least some of the above. The PKK are terrorists, without the inverted commas — and it is hard to fight terrorism within the constraints of international law and human rights. Israel wouldn't disagree.

Turkey intervened in Cyprus in 1974 in order to rescue ethnic Turks after a military coup engineered by the Greek military junta. While the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus might be little more than political fiction, one cannot ignore its existence or the needs and wishes of its 250,000 citizens. Still, as far as the EU is concerned, Northern Cyprus is EU territory under Turkish military occupation. 

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Riaz Ahmad
August 28th, 2010
5:08 PM
....as far as the EU is concerned, Northern Cyprus is EU territory under Turkish military occupation. Northern Cyprus belongs to the people who have lived there for centuries, and they happen to be ethnic Turks who welcomed Turkish army with open arms. No matter how you try to spin the facts with your connived and baseless arguments devoid of any reasoned or rational logic, Northern Cyprus will always belong to the Turks who live there. They were not brought from Poland, Germany, Russia or rest of eastern Europe to settle there. Turkey is not Iraq or Afghanistan. In another ten years, Turkish economy will be just as big as Germany; not my prediction but that of leading European economists. Turkey has neither the need nor the necessity to make any choice between east or west for two very obvious reasons. Firstly Turkey has both witnessed and experience western hypocrisy and double standards for decades now. Secondly the on going shift of both economic and political power from the west to the east has made it obvious to Turkey where most of the action is going to be in the future. Turkey does not need Europe or EU, the country has achieved rapid economic growth and success with out EU. It is Europe that needs Turkey desperately; with out Turkey there wont be any energy security. European energy security with out Turkey will be at Russian discretion. Journalists like you have a mindset stuck in the past, unable and unwilling to reconcile with the demands of the changing international political and economic reality. Turkey is no fool; she is playing the same game with Europe which the later has been playing for decades.

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