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Guillaume Chauvin

Chypre Nord : l'impossibilité d'une île.

Northern Cyprus : the impossibility of an island.

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Au moment où les tensions s'aggravent entre ses voisins grec et turc, la petite République Turque de Chypre Nord demeure non reconnue par la communauté internationale, depuis son annexion par la Turquie en 1974. L'été dernier, après la chute accidentelle cet été d'un missile russo-syrien près de Nicosie puis l'explosion d'un dépôt de munitions près de Kyrenia, le Président chypriote turc Mustafa Akinci a créé la surprise en critiquant ouvertement l'offensive militaire d'Erdogan en Syrie. Le nord de l'île de Chypre reste pourtant sous perfusion économique, politique et logistique d'Ankara, subissant indirectement la crise économique du voisin turc et les menaces de sanctions de l'UE. 

La population chypriote turque vient malgré tout d'entrevoir un possible "remède" à l'impasse héréditaire d'une réconciliation avec "le sud" (certains diplomates américains qualifie l'île de "Cuba européen"), et à la baisse de son pouvoir d'achat, suite à la découverte d'immenses gisements gaziers au large de l'île. De même, l'annonce par Ankara de voir bientôt réhabilitée la ville fantôme de Varosha, perle balnéaire sur la zone tampon, faciliterait le retour des touristes européens privilégiant encore le sud de l'île, membre de l'UE depuis 2004.

La singulière identité chypriote turque, distincte de celle des colons turcs et des chypriotes grecs, est aujourd'hui revendiquée et défendue par une jeune génération moderne, aux rêves d'égalité et de reconnaissance internationale. Offrant des paysages méconnus où cohabitent églises abandonnées et mosquées neuves, minijupes et muezzins, le nord de l'île ose désormais affirmer sa progressive émancipation des voisins turcs et Chypre du sud... Une situation qu'illustrent les témoignages de personnalités locales (Premier ministre, Miss Chypre nord, entrepreneurs, retraitées, jeunes diplômés..) et les images de G.C.

Réalisé avec Anastasia Plekhanova.


A once frozen conflict is slowly coming back to life as Turkey's interferences grow in the « Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus ». 

Up until two years ago, the north of Cyprus seemed to have fallen in a sort of political coma. The « north » has come to existence as a distinct region after the Turkish military intervention of 1974,  the epitome of a latent civil war since the 1950s between the Orthodox and Greek-speaking majority and the Muslim and Turkish-speaking minority. Emptied of its greek-Cypriot population, filled with the Turkish Cypriots from all around the island and settlers from rural Anatolia, the territory was turned into a small republic, unrecognized by all but Turkey. It was supposed to reunite with the South when the whole island was admitted to the EU in 2004, but remained at the door of the union after a failed referendum. The subsequent negotiations have been yet fruitless and the small territory vegetated towards an unknown yet quite stable fate. While it stayed marginalized from the international community, it benefited from the military and economic support of Turkey, a support which is viewed by many among the Turkish-Cypriot people as a form of occupation. 

For two years, alas, the situation has started to change noticeably : the deep economic crisis in Turkey since 2018 hit the country, which uses the Turkish lira, hard. Even more, the quest for hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean reached a threatening level of confrontation between Turkey and Cyprus, Greece, and by extent, the EU, even if no gaz has been exploited as of yet. In October, the situation got deeper with the controversial election of a pro-Turkey president in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus with the active support of Ankara, that did not hesitate to reopen a part of the ghost city of Varosha for the first time for 46 years. The population, today, is split between a will to preserve their culture and their right as citizen of the island, and the fear of many to be progressively absorbed by Turkey.

The youth, born long after the separation of the communities and the creation of the territory, however manage to be part of the global world while trying to preserve their specific identity. The north is too often looked at (only) as a political curiosity. But it is first and foremost the home of so many individualities, the banality of everyday life, the hidden wonders of the landscapes and that is exactly what Guillaume's work is offering. His photographs and the testimony of a variety of local figures guide you through  a place where Ancient Greeks, Lusignans, Venetians, Ottomans and Britts left their marks, a tourist resort for the Turkish and the British middle class that goes from eco-lodges to dodgy casinos and prostitution, a vibrant higher education hub for students all over the developing world, a place of sometimes anarchic urbanization which has also one of the most preserved coastline of the region and a remnant of the tragic fate of the hundreds of thousands of uprooted Greek-Cypriots, whose past presence is visible everywhere through abandoned churches and the graveyards.

(Theotime Chabre - Researcher, Eastern Mediterranean specialist)