The North Cyprus economy looks a like a small ship that is sinking in the waves of the devalued Turkish lira, Doğuş Derya* said an interview with Greek Cypriot daily ‘Phileleftheros’.
The following is an excerpt from the interview. To read the full text click on the link at the bottom of the page.
Doğuş Derya, a member of the Turkish Republican Party (CTP), said that over the past ten years, the demographic change in the north means that the Greek Cypriots will literally become neighbours of Turkey and they will not find any Turkish Cypriots to negotiate with. She underlined a real fear that Turkish Cypriot culture would be lost and that she would become the minority in her homeland.
Asked about the current economic situation in the north, she said:
“Because of the Cyprus problem, our economy is isolated from the global market and we must use the Turkish lira as our currency. Our economic dependence on Turkey makes our economy very fragile as fluctuations in the Turkish lira affect us directly. All sectors face the risk of bankruptcy, especially in the production sectors that need to use foreign currency (euro or sterling) to buy raw materials. Prices in electricity, real estate, cars and imported food prices have skyrocketed.”
Asked if Prime Minister Tufan Erhurman’s economic package was effective, she said:
“It appears that the situation has temporarily stabilised. However, this will not last long. According to economists, the economic crisis in Turkey will worsen. This means that North Cyprus will face dramatic economic difficulties in the coming months. Our economy resembles a small ship that sinks because of the waves of the Turkish economy.”
When asked whether hydrocarbons be a source of reunification or tension, she replied:
“We all know that the issue of hydrocarbons is not only regional but also an international issue. The solution of the Cyprus problem will facilitate the transport of natural gas to Europe in a more feasible and economical way. This will contribute to regional peace and stability, as all sides (Turkey, Greece, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots) will benefit from the new arrangement. However, I have to confess that I feel uncomfortable about possible tension in the Mediterranean. Because we all know that if we cannot solve the Cyprus problem, hydrocarbons will cause tension between Turkey and the other parties.”
Asked if she agreed that the current political climate favoured a two-state solution she said:
“I know that there are some political groups trying to focus the debate on a two-state solution to pave the way for a velvet divorce. I interpret these efforts as unrealistic and marginal to the concerns of all the communities of the island. We have been talking about a federal solution for more than 40 years and we have come a long way to achieving certain parameters such as political equality, bi-zonality, bi-communality. The quest for a two-state solution means losing all the efforts made so far. In addition, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are in favour of a federal solution in Cyprus.”
Asked if she believed a solution to the Cyprus problem was possible given past history, she replied:
“The Guterres’ framework was presented by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on 30 June 2017. This framework is an important basis for achieving a comprehensive settlement. In my opinion, we lost an historic opportunity to Crans-Montana and after that, the leaders of both sides did not work hard enough to solve the problems of security, guarantees and political equality. Rather than blaming each other for failure at Crans-Montana, the leaders had to work on these issues because the discussions on the other issues are almost finished. In addition, Turkey and Greece need to increase their flexibility to show the necessary political will and to participate constructively in the ongoing UN-led talks.”
Asked how the culture of peace can be built, she said:
“To build a culture of peace, we need to put gender mainstreaming policies at the top of our federal agenda. We need to encourage politicians to implement gender awareness, anti-racism and multicultural policies that will teach children about a federal culture. In addition, we should encourage civil society to work together at a grassroots level and work out social programmes that will lead both communities to read the “pain of others” in an empathic way. We must all know that a conflict has at least two sides and no one wins in a war. War makes people lose their loved ones, possessions and memories. That is why we must constantly reiterate that all the communities of the island have lost. I believe that women, such as mothers, sisters, spouses or just as individuals, can use this ability to read the pain of another and encourage leaders to create Committees of Truth and Reconciliation to heal the traumas of the past.”
*Doğuş Derya was born in 1978 in Nicosia. Her mother is from Paphos and her father from Karpasia. She has a sister. She studied Political Science and International Relations at the University of Istanbul and History and Sociology (MA) at the University of Bosphorus (Constantinople). She finished her November doctoral degree at the University of Cyprus at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies. She has worked as an academic, teaching Political Sociology at various universities in North Cyprus.
Her academic interests are for nationalism, post-colonialism, gender studies and cultural studies. She has published many articles on these topics. She worked at the editorial conferences of the intellectual journals ‘Gaile’ and ‘Kıbrıs Yazıları’. She has been a feminist activist since she was 18. She has worked in several non-governmental organisations dealing with women’s rights. Doğuş Derya founded the Feminist Atelier. She is a member of the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Gender. It deals with children and animal rights. She created the Community Centre Gonyeli SAM in Gonyeli.
She was elected as and MP for the Turkish Republican Party in 2013 and re-elected in 2018. After her appointment, she began work on the reform of many laws on gender equality and human rights in the TRNC and is involved in peace activism.