True tales of Cyprus

January 23, 1998

THE admirable rise of higher education in the illegally-occupied Turkish zone of northern Cyprus (THES, January 9) may have more to do with the concerted campaign by certain sectors of the Turkish ruling military elite to confer respectability on the occupation by establishing a university and thereby attracting international recognition.

The threats by the Turkish government to incorporate the north of Cyprus as a part of Turkey, if the Republic of Cyprus is accepted into the European Union, illustrates that there is about as much legitimacy and independence in the north as there was in sector 48 of Iraq (sometime Kuwait) during a certain period in 1992.

If this pseudo-state was serious about higher education, why did it not accept the United Nation's proposal for a library in the free areas of Cyprus and then allow the free passage of the island's students to and from all parts of the island?

The reason why 60 per cent of students come from the mainland is that the native Turkish Cypriots, as well as the few remaining Greek-Cypriots, suffer appalling economic conditions and violations of basic freedoms under the military state. Greek-Cypriot children are forced to leave their homes and go to the south if they want to continue school after the age of 11. Half of the 120,000 native Turkish Cypriots have left since 1974; 100,000 settlers have been brought into Cyprus from eastern Turkey. In a population of under 200,000, the north of Cyprus has a threatening presence of just under 40,000 military troops.

These hybrid demographics might help explain some of the strange and seemingly encouraging statistics in the article.

Charalambos Neophytou

Jesus College, Oxford

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