Turkish Cypriot leader backs singer after criticism of video clip in abandoned town

Ersin Tatar meets online with Turkish Cypriot musician targeted by Greek Cypriots after release of video in Maras

Muhammet Ikbal Arslan   | 21.11.2021
Turkish Cypriot leader backs singer after criticism of video clip in abandoned town

LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

The president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) expressed his support for a Turkish Cypriot singer who was criticized for a video clip filmed in the coastal city of Maras, also known as Varosha.

Ersin Tatar said in a statement that he met online with Nihayet Elibol, who was targeted by the Greek Cypriots after she released a clip of her song, Bulaman, in the abandoned town which was known as a ghost town -- cut off from the world for 47 years.

A portion of the region -- about 3.5% of the total area -- was reopened in October 2020, with people welcomed daily to visit between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Maras was abandoned after a 1984 UN Security Council resolution that said only original inhabitants could resettle in the town.

Entry was forbidden except for Turkish army personnel stationed in the TRNC.

Tatar congratulated the 32-year-old singer known by her stage name, Nini, as well as her team for the video clip in Maras.

He said the inhumane attitudes toward Elibol, who was subjected to threats and insults by Greek Cypriots, were the product of a bigoted mentality.

Noting that her song did not have any political concerns, Tatar said there was no logical basis for the attacks because the location was Maras.

He said that mentality, that cannot tolerate even a song, is the biggest threat to peace in the region and the world, while pointing out that art is a universal language of world humanity.

“Tolerance to art and differences is one of the most important phenomena of civilized life,” he said.

Tatar also said as a Turkish Cypriot leader, he and Turkish Cypriot people were standing by the singer.

Elibol thanked Tatar for his support and noted that her song was taken off the air because of complaints by Greek Cypriots. She said the attacks were unacceptable.

The video clip was shot during the summer but released Nov. 16 on YouTube.

In the video, young people are seen dancing and singing on the beaches of the long-abandoned city.

- Decades-long dispute

Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.

In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece’s annexation led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.

It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the UK.

The Greek Cypriot administration entered the EU in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted the UN’s Kofi Annan plan to end the longstanding dispute.

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