Monday, 8 January 2007

Talat-Turkish military tension

On page 3 of its newspaper for the 6th of January, the Turkish Daily News relayed that "Talat downplays tension with Turkish military". The article was about the Ledra Street-Lokmaci Gate crossing, the supposed opening of which was one of the leading issues in the Cypriot newspapers when I arrived on the island a year ago. The opening of the crossing point doesn't particularly interest me (although it would make my life, like everyone else's, easier, especially once I've moved north), but something 'Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat' said does.
Talat also denied claims that there was a disagreement between him and Lt. Gen. Hayri Kivrikoglu, commander of the Turkish Cypriot peacekeeping force. "I don't think we can have such a luxury," he said.
I don't know what relationship the "Turkish Cypriot peacekeeping force" has with the civilian administration and the occupying army, but I suspect it's (kept) closer to the Turkish army than the Turkish Cypriot administration, particularly given the Turkish Daily News itself abbreviated it to '[the] Turkish military'.

If we privileged nationalist readings, we would assume that Talat meant that the supposed Greek (Cypriot) threat was too great to allow internal divisions that might weaken Turkish (Cypriot) defences; however, I think that may be generous to the nationalists and may be unfair to the Turkish Cypriot community and their leader. I think it's possible to read the meaning that the Turkish Cypriots - the Turkish Cypriot community, the Turkish Cypriot administration - don't have the luxury to disagree with the Turkish (Cypriot) military.

I believe that reading is possible because of the situation in northern Cyprus. In an interview with David Jessel on the BBC's Hardtalk programme on the 13th of July 2005, an admittedly imperfect source, Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, asked rhetorically,
Is Mr. Talat authorised, to talk about the withdrawal of the Turkish army, about the cessation of the occupation, about all the things that Turkey decides and not Mr. Talat, who admittedly, said, publicly, in a meeting, "sorry, I had agreed to open this roadblock, but the military doesn't allow me to"?
In other news, the Turkish Daily News also published a story on page 4 about the "Italian transgender MP to champion gay rights in Turkey, Muslim world". Vladimir Luxuria came across well - committed, but aware that if she were 'to engage in "gay colonialism"' it would undermine, rather than further, her and others' just campaign. Just last night having had local friends jokingly admonish me that, 'there are no gays in Turkey', I couldn't suppress a smile when I read that 'Luxuria said: "[In the Muslim world] in schools, work, and even in religious places men stay with men and women with women. There are even more opportunities than in our country [Italy]. But it is all shrouded in silence."' It's a point very quickly and cleanly scored, but I know people who'll feel really threatened by that and get very defensive.

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