The Turkish Heritage Organization (THO), a US-based organization with ties to Turkish President Erdoğan, recently hosted a webinar panel about Cyprus featuring a British member of the House of Lords. According to the description of the event:
October 12, 2020 On Friday, the Turkish Heritage Organization hosted a webinar panel featuring a discussion on “Building a Peaceful Future in Cyprus.” This webinar featured a discussion on a historical background and opportunities for cooperation with the perspective of the upcoming Presidential elections in Northern Cyprus. The panelists featured Lord Northbrook, House of Lords, UK Parliament, United Kingdom, member of the Parliamentary Group Friends of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus; Mr. Ergun Olgun, Former Undersecretary of the Presidency, Former Chief Negotiator, Northern Cyprus; Prof. Herbert Reginbogin, Fellow at The Catholic University of America & THO Advisory Board Member, United States of America; and Prof. Dr. Ahmet Sözen, Chairman, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Eastern Mediterranean University, Northern Cyprus.
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The THO moderator asked Lord Northbrook various questions about the UK’s position concerning Cyprus, including the island’s division, the UK’s military bases in Cyprus, and the upcoming elections in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The THO moderator additionally noted that the UK has been “quiet on the Cyprus issue.” It would seem that the THO is trying to both understand the UK position on Cyprus as well as advocate for the Turkish/TRNC position on the island.
Given the occupational background of the others on the panel, the THO is also likely attempting to influence Lord Northbrook concerning Cyprus issues. With the UK leaving the EU, the TRNC has an opportunity to have better relations with the UK, and the TRNC deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs have spoken directly to this point. Lord Northbrook is a good candidate for such influence as he has spoken out about Northern Cyprus’s isolation and for the sharing of hydrocarbon resources between the two sides of the island in the Lord’s Chamber.
The US-based Turkish Heritage Organization (THO) describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dealing with US-Turkey relations and Turkey’s role in the international community, among others. Its current president Ali Cinar has written many articles or op-eds for state-operated and pro-government newspapers. His name appeared in a warning from a Turkey expert at the Center for American Progress think tank to Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign manager about the “Erdogan crew” investing in Democratic politicians. Its previous president and other THO leaders reported to Erdoğan’s son-in-law and other Turkish officials about the THO’s lobbying efforts.