Under a bunch of election posters, in the shade of the imposing Venetian building with ocher stones, a dozen men, in their fifties, frantically play tavli, also called backgammon. One of the many common points between the two parts of Cyprus. Turkey in the north, self-proclaimed, who is due to elect its new “President” this Sunday, October 18, and Greece in the south, the only internationally recognized one who is following this election very closely.
→ THE FACTS. Northern Cyprus: the pro-Erdogan candidate in the lead but in difficulty
How could it be otherwise? The visions on the future of the divided island, of the two candidates who will face each other in the second round, the outgoing President Mustapha Akinci and his Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, are totally the opposite.
The first wants the resumption of intercommunal negotiations with a view to a federation made up of two zones, with very loose links with Ankara. The second, colt of the Turkish president, wants two separate states with the maintenance of the guarantor power of Turkey and some 40,000 Turkish soldiers present on the island since the Turkish military invasion of northern Cyprus in July 1974.
Ehmet, a black cap on his head, throws the dice with passion. He will vote for Akinci, he says in a low voice, “Because I am Turkish Cypriot, not Turkish. My country is Cyprus, not Turkey. It is with those opposite that we must agree and with no one else ”. Her partner doesn’t say anything, but seems to agree. Behind, two younger players, strain their ears. No one will speak anymore. This scene is repeated often on this side of Cyprus. Sener Levent, 72, Turkish Cypriot and journalist for the daily Evropa, knows all about it. Openly opposed to Ankara, a staunch defender of Cypriot identity and reunification, he campaigned for Akinci once again drawing the wrath of Ankara.
Last chance elections
“Erdogan wants to help the far right here. He doesn’t want a solution. He does not want us to get along with the Greek Cypriots ”. This convinced layman notices that Islam is more and more present on the island : “We are sent imams every day. We have more mosques than schools. For many Turkish Cypriots these elections are the last chance. Those who have a British or even Greek Cypriot passport want to leave ”.
For Haroun Nenizen, journalist, the problem centers on the Anatolian settlers sent by Ankara to reverse the demographic ratio: “We Turkish Cypriots have become a minority. We risk not winning this time. And this journalist, who speaks perfect Greek, says that “ 2,000 Turkish lira (215 €) were paid into 10,000 accounts to buy votes under cover of Covid allocation ”.
An accusation taken up by Mustapha Akinci: ” They went from village to village, from association to committee, asking what their needs were and telling them not to vote Akinci “. Last push from Erdogan to Ersin Tatar, the announcement of the opening of the dead city of Varosha, closed for 46 years. Not all Turkish Cypriots appreciated this direct intervention in the ballot. “We are not a Turkish province, the writer Sevgul Uludag protests, this ballot is our only chance to let it be known. »