President Erdogan's visit to Cyprus was welcomed by Turkish Cypriots, and demonstrated that the historic ties between Cyprus and Turkey are still alive
We were experiencing another first when we set out on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's first overseas trip. We were going to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on a 330 Airbus set up for the presidency and called "Air Force One" for the first time.
The first thing that caught my eye when we boarded on the plane at Ataturk International Airport was the meeting room. Whenever we went on a trip with either president or prime minister, meeting journalists was always a problem because of the lack of space, and there again it happened to be very crowded.
The center of the new plane was designed as a meeting room. No doubt that might be planned for heads of states and other commissions, but, for sure, it will be journalists who will mostly use it.This suits Turkey very well, a Turkey growing and operating in its region. We witnessed a first once we landed in Northern Cyprus. At Ercan International Airport, President Erdogan and TRNC President Dervis Eroglu met, after which he gave a brief speech to welcome Turkish Cypriots and quickly left for the tomb of Dr. Fazıl Küçük.
There we witnessed a first in Northern Cyprus.It was raining in Northern Cyprus where there hadn't been a single drop of rain for nine months.
Not to say it was pouring down. It was worth seeing how Turkish Cypriots reacted to this. It was our guide who spoke first: "Believe it or not, it hadn't rained a single drop for nine months. Our president has brought us good luck."
Then we left for the tomb of dear departed Rauf Denktas, which is brought to mind when the TRNC is mentioned. On our way, the rain had stopped, and we had already started feeling the usual warmth of Northern Cyprus. A wreath was placed on Denktas's tomb; meanwhile I had a chat with Turkish Cypriots coming to see President Erdogan. One of them said: "We love President Erdogan. He has brought abundance with him."
Leaving the tomb, the journalists, the first guests of the trip, Hasan Karakaya, Ali Bayramoglu, Ahmet Tasgetiren, Ismail Kapan, Murat Kelkitlioglu, Kurtulus Tayiz and Ergun Diler and I went to a cafe in Nicosia.
Once we sat there in the yard, it started pouring down again. Karakaya, Kelkitlioglu and I sat there purposely, watching the Northern Cyprus rain. Karakaya recalled the first days of President Erdogan's mayorship of Istanbul when he saw the joy Turkish Cypriots had for the rain falling: "It is true that he has brought abundance, it also rained at the time he took office." On his first trip in which he carried on the tradition of presidents, President Erdogan addressed Turkish Cypriots, sincerely expressing his words: "Thank Allah, as usual, I paid my first visit to the TRNC, thereby opening the official diplomatic process of our trip to the TRNC.As meaningful as a mother and a child's meeting, so is this meeting here. We will discuss the place of TRNC's standing tall in international circles in the negotiations we will have."
Erdogan's trip to the TRNC is symbolic in a way. However, it is also known that we have come to a new threshold in the Northern Cyprus issue due to the negotiations picking up speed in 2014. That may be why TRNC President Eroglu underlines this message, "I hope everyone will see the point of Erdogan's trip here." Erdogan will not only meet Eroglu, but also Speaker Sibel Siber, Prime Minister Özkan Yorgancıoglu and opposition parties.
We might figure out what kind of a contribution the first trip to Northern Cyprus will make to the solution of the issue and if it will speed it up on
our way back.