Dom Research Center   News Clippings: Cyprus

Plans for Turkish Cypriot school ‘a big lie’ -
Teachers union accuses government of racism
in Cyprus Mail, April 9, 2005

By Simon Bahceli

TURKISH Cypriot Teachers Union (KTOS) head Sener Elcil yesterday branded the government racist and accused it of lying over its intentions to open an exclusively Turkish Cypriot school in Limassol.

Last week the Cyprus government was reported to have expressed willingness, via a letter to UNFICYP, to open a school for around 160 Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot gypsy children living in the Limassol area.

However, Elcil says he is convinced the government is insincere and that it is simply looking for ways to stall the school’s establishment.

“Part of what makes me suspicious is that the Greek Cypriot government has told lies in relation to the school and about a report relating to the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot gypsy community in Limassol,” Elcil told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

“The first lie was that the report says Turkish Cypriots are pleased with the education they are receiving in Limassol. There is nothing at all in the report suggesting this”.

Elcil said the report, if anything, showed the Turkish Cypriots of Limassol being a “disadvantaged and humiliated” community.

The second lie, Elcil said, was that the Cyprus government’s claim that they had been in “official contact” with KTOS and that KTOS had expressed willingness to help recruit teachers.

“No one has contacted us”.

“But the biggest lie is that they intend to open a separate school for Turkish Cypriots,” he said.

Elcil believes the government will seek to maintain its policy of assimilating Turkish Cypriots into Greek Cypriot schools – a policy he says runs in contravention to the constitution of the Republic. “Under Cypriot law, each community has the right to education in its mother tongue. They haven’t arranged this and I am sure they have no intention to do so.”

He added that Turkish Cypriots in Limassol are receiving all their education in Greek, except for two hours a week of Turkish classes.

Elcil also criticised the Cyprus government for billing the report as a study on whether the Turkish Cypriots desired a school of their own.

“The report is, in fact, not about the need for a school, but about the social status of the community,” he said.

“It shows the people are subject to prejudice and humiliation. Many of the Limassol Turkish Cypriots are gypsies, and they are discriminated against because of that.”

Elcil said the report also touched on educational issues such as student performance, absenteeism, misbehaviour and prejudice, and that most striking was the report’s conclusion that students from the community were subject to racism and hostility.

“It’s a very good and objective report, but I don’t see how they can surmise from this that Turkish Cypriots in Limassol are happy with the education they are receiving,” he said.

On Thursday government spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides told the Mail the Turkish Cypriot community had shown no interest for the opening of a school, but that “the government will make all necessary arrangements so that Turkish Cypriots are satisfied as regards their right to education and their language.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of each individual author. The views and opinions do not represent those held by the Dom Research Center.

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