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In Cyprus ~ Lale Kemal Visits from Turkey

Impressions of Turkish journalist

by Lale Kemal,

Lale Kemal writes a daily column in Zaman newspaper, and is also the Ankara bureau chief for the Taraf newspaper. Please click on the photos to see them enlarged.

"...From Girne, we, as a group of journalists, reached Gazimağusa on the eastern coast of Cyprus in the Turkish section after an hour-long drive. Adjacent to Gazimağusa is Maraş (Varosha), a ghost city closed to habitation since 1974. Once a famous resort town, the tall buildings visible from Gazimağusa have turned into ruins. Entry into the city requires obtaining permission from either the UN or from the Turkish military.

Maraş is kept closed and is to be handed over to the Greek Cypriots if there is a solution.

We asked KKTC President Eroğlu whether he can issue a permit for us to enter this ghost city. His answer was quite striking since he told us that Turkish military units issue the permits. Here you are -- the system of military tutelage is still at work in

the northern half of Cyprus.

Mainland Turkey has taken considerable steps to bring the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) under civilian democratic control, though it has a long way to go to fully end the system of military tutelage. But it is hard to say that this process has also been initiated in northern Cyprus.

During our travel from Lefkoşa, Girne and finally to Gazimağusa, we saw some of the many Turkish military garrisons. There are estimated to be around 30,000 to 60,000 Turkish troops deployed in the Turkish section of the island. Maintaining such a high number of Turkish troops there is quite costly for Turkey, and their number should definitely be reduced. This is because a future military conflict is highly unlikely on the island."

Lale Kemal

Excerpted from her column entry on February 28, 2012:

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Petros Evdokas,


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