Financial independence in North better for federal Cyprus

Concerns that a process of “assimilation” by Turkey, was demonstrated by a group of young people who took to the streets last week to show how they felt about the establishing of a Turkish Youth and Sports Coordination Office in the North.

Writing in Cyprus Weekly, Fiona Mullen says that the answer to countering such impositions, in part at least, is financial independence.

The budget from Turkey is higher than it was in 2013/15 at TL 4.2 billion (1.3 billion euros) for 2016/18. Half of which is to support the TRNC budget and the remainder takes the form of loans and infrastructure projects.

Mullen says that the protocol signed between the North and Turkey sets out details of a comprehensive reform programme. It aims to help the Turkish Cypriots to stand on their own two feet. Details include privatising electricity and all the ports.

She likens the programme to the South’s own bailout programme and its promises to the EU Commission when it was preparing to join the EU.

Mullen says that if the aim, in the long term, is financial independence from Turkey, then it can only be a good thing, irrespective of whether or not a solution to the Cyprus problem is found.

She argues that if the tax system was helpful to private businesses rather than a hindrance, if the public service sector rationalised its salaries and was less generous with its perks, then the North might be better able to stand its ground, the next time Turkey demands something that it does not approve of.

Equally, if the Turkish Cypriot side of a new federation is better off financially than it is currently, the Greek Cypriots will not be faced with the task of subsidising its poorer federal partner. If you can pay your own way, she says, you get a lot more respect.

Financial independence could therefore bring a much-needed boost to Turkish Cypriot confidence and help cement a united Cyprus in the process.

Fiona Mullen – Cyprus Weekly

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