Today, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Northern Cyprus to meet with his counterpart, Mustafa Akinci. The visit comes a day after Erdogan’s re-inauguration as president, which saw the Islamist leader assume increased executive powers.
Cypriots in Turkish-influenced Northern Cyprus are concerned that Mr Erdogan’s burgeoning autocracy will affect their island’s autonomy and the chances of unifying the island, which has been divided since 1974.
Erdogan will today open a large mosque in Northern Nicosia, which has come to symbolise the president’s growing encouragement of political Islam. As Muslim Cypriots are some of the most liberal-minded in the Islamic World, many fear their own religious and national traditions—and ultimately the prospects of unification—will be threatened if Erdogan pushes Cyprus towards Islamism.
Going forward, unification talks are unlikely to be successful if President Erdogan continues to use Turkey’s historic influence in Northern Cyprus, combined with his increased executive powers post-election, to drive a political and cultural wedge between Northern and Southern Cyprus by further encouraging Islamism.
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Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.