Turkish North Cyprus is one the best-kept secrets of the Mediterranean. It has the best local weather, food, people and a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. Although culturally in many ways it is part of the middle east, visitors feel at home no matter which country they come from. It is the only country I know where I can pay in Turkish Lira, UK Sterling, and Euro as well as credit cards in most shops without having to visit an exchange bureau. English is also widely spoken as well as Turkish.
Every time you visit you will find a new interesting place to go to or explore. In my most recent visit, I found an interesting place in Karsiyaka to the west of Girne (Kyrenia). The Horseshoe Beach Restaurant is perched on a cliff overlooking a horseshoe-shaped bay offering beautiful views, a lovely atmosphere and sunny outdoor dining area. The owner Apo Arslan has a unique collection of collectable antique and new items hanging in his establishment, as well as a peaceful, carpeted Ottoman style sitting area with floor cushions available for adventurous souls to recline and rest in if they wish.
Since 1974 when the Turkish government intervened to protect the Cypriot Turks from total annihilation by the Greek Cypriots, thus creating the safe haven of the TRNC, many find the issue of Northern Cyprus an uncomfortable issue to discuss. Turkish place names are not featured on Google maps, if you want a TRNC address you need to use Turkiye’s Mersin city, and there are as yet no direct flights to Ercan International Airport etc.
The Turkish Cypriot people have frequently attempted reconciliation with their Greek Cypriot counterparts without success – since the Greek Cypriots sadly usually find a way to end the peace process. In 2004 the EU played its role by permitting the South of Cyprus to enter the European Union before solving the Cyprus issue. This has to date prevented the global recognition of TRNC as a separate country even thought it has been operating effectively since 1983 and has played a large part in bringing peace to the island as a whole.
But the EU’s injustice to the TRNC did not stop there. Prior to 2004, it had promised to lift the unfair trade embargo against the TRNC if TRNC voted “yes” to the so-called Annan reunification plan. Even though this plan, should it have been implemented, would have resulted in the Turkish Cypriots losing a large amount of land and giving the Southside massive extra rights, the TRNC in good faith voted “yes” with the south side voting “no”. But no EU country or even the EU itself kept its share of the bargain. Turkish people have observed throughout history that the EU policies appear to be two-faced, with double standard judgements which in my opinion do not adequately uphold the human rights of all nations. With the Cyprus issue, Turkish people believe that they have once more ignored human rights.
I hear in the news now that the UK has voted to recognise Palestine as a country whereas the French are demanding certain conditions prior to recognition. But didn’t this country and people exist before this vote? How does a country get the right to declare or not declare another country’s right to exist? Of course, we can’t or shouldn’t ask these questions. This seems to parallel the argument: “we can have nuclear weapons, but you can’t have them because your country is a danger to the world whereas our country is not!!”
Despite all these political goings-on, the TRNC is a thriving country! The North Cyprus Property market is attracting people from all over the world for investment, retirement and holiday purposes. In fact, Turkey has recently invested into a £270 million undersea water pipeline project between Turkey and Northern Cyprus which will put pure water “on tap” in North Cyprus.
Many local village festivals such as Buyukkonuk eco-festival keep alive traditional clothes and handicraft. Beaches such as Alagadi, Golden, new Karpas Gate Marina, ancient castles, sites like Salamis, the mausoleum over St Barnabas ‘s tomb, the spectacular Selimiye Mosque (was once the St Sophie Cathedral, Lefkosa) offer unmatched variety for people from all walks of life to enjoy with a short distance of reach.
I recommend everyone to visit TRNC and see some of these attractions while enjoying spectacular beaches, mild and sunny weather and delicious local food.
16 October 2014, Catalkoy, Girne, Cyprus