Wary Cyprus Eyes Turkish President Erdogan’s Power Boost Referendum Victory

A Turkish woman living in the breakaway north of ethnically divided Cyprus, leaves the polling booth to casts her vote in a referendum on expanding presidential powers in Turkey, in the Turkish Cypriot breakaway part of divided capital Nicosia, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Turkish officials have said as many as 100,000 people living in the breakaway north of Cyprus are eligible to vote early in the Turkish referendum. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA – Cyprus’ government is trying to gauge the effect of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s referendum win giving him growing powers – near to dictatorial, critics said – as he refuses to recognize the island’s sovereignty and has the last word on his side over unity talks.

The Cyprus government is still evaluating the results of the constitutional referendum in Turkey “in order to come to a comprehensive understanding of its implications”, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said cautiously.

Asked by the Cyprus News Agency to comment he said Cyprus would monitor not only what would happen in Turkey but also the reactions of international bodies and other countries.

“Some early data is worthy of special attention, such as, for example, that under effect we have a divided country, that the ‘yes` lost in the three largest cities, that the supporters of` `no` are challenging the results. There are also the results in the occupied areas and some other important data,” said Christodoulides.

DIKO centrist party leader leader Nicolas Papadopoulos tweeted that, “Turkey’s democracy died today. “With barely half the country voting no…That sense of insecurity is likely to make Erdogan more, not less, autocratic,” he added.

The Citizens Alliance urged President Nicos Anastasiades to prepare for all eventualities “so as not to be forced, once again, to make more concessions” in talks with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to bring together the island divided since an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion. “Erdogan won although the referendum has divided Turkish society,” said the party.

Erdogan said he won’t budge in the talks over his demand to keep an army on Cyprus and the right to invade again if he wants.

“The reaction and opposition questions create instability but also new challenges to Erdogan’s authoritarian regime, reactions which are often unpredictable. These factors should concern the Cyprus government and those who were adopting uncritically the theories of attitude change from Erdogan after the referendum,” the Citizens Alliance said, the Cyprus Mail reported.

The AKEL Communists, in a statement said it would be premature to draw firm conclusions about the referendum result in Turkey. “The marginal “yes” indicates a deeply divided country,” the party said, adding that a thorough analysis would have to be made.

Solidarity leader Eleni Theocharous also called the referendum results a blow to democracy saying the new constitution was created “to serve the aspirations of paranoid dictator Erdogan”.

“The fact that the referendum was held under emergency rule, essentially under martial law, while the Turkish intelligentsia are left to rot in the dungeons of Erdogan’s prisons, does not allow anyone to believe that yesterday’s result is really an expression of the will of the Turkish people,” she said.

“The situation, under these conditions, will deteriorate dramatically into instability and civil unrest which will dominate the political life in Turkey with unpredictable consequences for Cyprus and Hellenism.”