ANKARA (Reuters)–Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said the European Court of Human Rights verdict condemning Turkey for abuses in northern Cyprus should be directed to Turkey’s republic in Cyprus–and not to Turkey. "The European Court of Human Rights’ latest decision doesn’t actually affect Turkey at all," he said.
Ecevit defended the human rights record of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) that only Ankara recognizes–and said the verdict had no effect whatsoever on Turkey.
"If they have accusations against northern Cyprus–they must first make the accusations known on TRNC soil. They must recognize the existence of that state,” Ecevit said in an interview on Thursday.
When the court turned its attention to the TRNC–the prime minister said: "They are going to find a state with the most advanced degree of human rights. There is a very strong democracy in the TRNC–and it is a state with the utmost respect for human rights."
The case was brought to the court by the Cyprus government. The court’s ruling found Turkey guilty of violating 14 articles of the European Human Rights Convention with its 1974 invasion and ongoing occupation of northern Cyprus.
Turkey invaded Cyprus after a short-lived coup–backed by the then military government in Athens–and Ankara argues it was exercising its right as a guarantor of the island to protect Turkish Cypriots there. Cyprus has been effectively partitioned since 1974–and years of talks to find a solution have so far yielded nothing.
The Cyprus issue is among several that divide long-time rivals Greece and Turkey–but Ecevit said all issues could be solved by dialogue between the two sides. "There are no actual serious conflicts of interest between Turkey and Greece. So if the dialogue process is started–I believe we can solve our issues,” he said.