Turkish Perceptions of Cyprus: 1948 to the Present

PRIO Report

Bryant, Rebecca & Mete Hatay (2015) Turkish Perceptions of Cyprus: 1948 to the Present. PRIO Cyprus Centre Report: 1. Cyprus : PRIO Cyprus Centre .

This report provides a broad outline of the ways in which Turkish public attitudes towards Cyprus have changed over time, and the policy implications of such attitude changes. Since its establishment in 1923, the Republic of Turkey has exerted influence over the Turkish-speaking community in Cyprus. In the first thirty years of its existence, however, Turkey's influence was primarily social and intellectual, with Turkish Cypriot elites adopting Turkish nationalism and following trends coming from Turkey. As the report shows, the Cyprus Problem had to be brought to the attention of the Turkish public in the middle of the twentieth century by Turkish Cypriot elites in collaboration with pan-Turkist intellectuals in Turkey. Once put on the public agenda and formulated as a "national cause," however, Turkey's role and rights in Cyprus would become unquestionable, defining the limits of what could publicly be said in Turkey about the island.

The report examines the evolution of public attitudes towards Cyprus, the Cyprus Problem, and Turkish Cypriots over approximately seven decades. As the report shows, these three elements have been linked in various ways over time. While from the mid-1950's to the early 2000's the perception of Cyprus as a "national cause" encompassed both the strategic and the "human" elements of the problem, the post 2002 period has seen a transformation of Cyprus in Turkish public opinion from a "national cause" to a "national burden." More recently, because of conflicts in the region and Turkey's strategic interests, Turkish public discourse has begun to frame a potential resolution of the Cyprus Problem as a "national opportunity." Examining the evolution of public attitudes towards Cyprus also enables the authors to consider the current conjuncture and where the relationship between north Cyprus and Turkey, and between Turkish Cypriots and Turkish nationals, may be heading in the future.

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