Is the coronavirus pandemic bringing Cyprus closer to reunification?



President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiadis and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı who supports the unification of Cyprus and opposes Turkey's influence on the island, discussed developments about the spread of coronavirus in Cyprus on Saturday.

President Anastasiadis appeared in favour of Mr. Akıncı's request for sending medicines and protective equipment to occupied northern Cyprus. The shipment of which will be made from the free areas of Cyprus to the occupied territories within the next week.

According to a written statement by Government Spokesman Kyriakos Kousiou during a telephone conversation between the President Anastasiadis and the Turkish Cypriot leader today, "the current situation has been assessed and the two leaders have expressed their concern over the developments surrounding its spread on the island."

President Anastasiadis and Mr. Akıncı agreed to have constant contact on the matter and to strengthen the efforts of the bi-communal Technical Health Committee.

This coordination and cooperation is a positive step, and very well perhaps could open the path towards the unification of the island after the northern part was brutally invaded in 1974 by Turkey.

Soon after Akıncı won the 2015 leadership election in occupied Cyprus, he had an infamous debate on live TV with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the latter refused to accept occupied Cyprus having more independence from Turkey.

In an interview with The Guardian in February, Akıncı said the only viable solution to Cyprus’s nearly half century of division was reunification under a federal “roof.”

In the same article, Akıncı said Turkish Cypriots had their own distinct identity that was secular, democratic, and plural.

“We want to keep this,” he said. Civil society activists complain that Turkey has embarked on a campaign of creeping Islamic influence, characterised by mosque building, the establishment of Koranic schools and the removal of evolution from the curriculum.

However this "distinct identity" Akıncı may be a lot closer to Greek Cypriots than he may think. A 2017 PLOS One peer-reviewed scientific article found that Greek and Turkish Cypriots have a high percentage of shared haplotypes and both have a high amount local pre-Ottoman ancestry. The journal concluded that genetically, Greek and Turkish Cypriots are almost genetically the same, and in turn both are genetically close to Cretan and Calabrian Greeks.

Despite this genetic reality, Turkish Cypriots are being used by Turkey for Erdoğan for his own geopolitical goals - territorial expansion. Erdoğan's former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu even admitted in his book Stratejik Derinlik (Strategic Depth) that "even if there was not a single Muslim Turk over there, Turkey would have to maintain a Cyprus question. No country could possibly be indifferent to an island like this, placed in the heart of its vital space."

Effectively Davutoğlu admits that even if there were no Muslims and Turks on the island, Turkey would have justified the invasion of the island through other means to protect its own expansionist needs. Turkey currently has 30,000 soldiers occupying the northern half of the island and facilitates colonisers to move to Cyprus.

It is for this reason that Akıncı is despised by Turkey as he actively cooperates with the Republic of Cyprus and seeks a way for reunification to occur. Now that President Anastasiadis and Akıncı are cooperating closely because of the coronavirus, can this push ahead negotiations for the reunification of Cyprus?