Tuesday, 21 June 2022
Proposals by the Greek Cypriot leader to hand over Varosha/Maras to the authority of the UN in exchange for opening Famagusta Port to international trade and permitting direct flights to Ercan, again under the authority the UN have been rejected by President Ersin Tatar and Ankara. These proposals were suggested in writing twice to Tatar and rejected out of hand. Tatar insists that the TRNC be recognised as a separate and autonomous state and then talks can begin.
In an opinion piece written by Fehime Alasia for Yeniduzen, she interviews some of the stakeholders in North Cyprus and asks for their comments.
The proposals have divided opinions in the business sector, she writes. Some say the proposals should be considered. Supporters of a federal solution say that the confidence building measures (CBMs) should be implemented as happened in the past, while the Chamber of Commerce has rejected the proposals for confidence building measures in their current form.
The President of the Hoteliers Union Dimağ Çağıner said, “These expansions are of course useful, but they should be discussed in detail“.
On the other hand, the President of the Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Industry (KTSO) Ali Kamacıoğlu said that the board of directors are in a great dilemma about the proposals and will meet on Thursday and take a decision on the issue.
Political Will Required
Political Scientist and Academician Dr. Silk Borman said: “We need political will. It is society itself that will provide this political will”. He added that the proposals put forward should be read from a more general perspective and evaluated both in terms of the socio-economic development of the Turkish Cypriots and in terms of mutual benefit within the island and the region.
Borman said that neither of the Cypriot community leaders has engaged in sincere and constructive efforts to solve the Cyprus problem and its ensuing issues.
“The truth is that we live on a divided island, with a political conflict, and we, as Turkish Cypriots, feel and see the effects of this in our lives every day, every moment“.
The confidence-building measures suggested by the Greek Cypriot side have been on the agenda for some time now, Borman said adding, “It does not justify the Turkish Cypriot leadership’s total rejection of the proposals without any dialogue with its interlocutor“. With this continuing attitude of their leader the Turkish Cypriots will only suffer further impoverishment, he said.
Turkish Cypriot Economy Failing
Leader of the CTP Tufan Erhürman, supports negotiating the CBMs, pointing out that opening up Ercan and Famagusta Port to international traffic will greatly benefit the TRNC. However, one of the other main problems for the Turkish Cypriot is the devalued Turkish lira. He said that the amount of money being offered to them by Turkey in the economic protocol signed in April, is losing its value. Erhurman has suggested that the TRNC adopt the euro as currency in order to rescue its sinking economy.
Former CTP Deputy and former negotiator in the Cyprus talks, Özdil Nami said that the proposals are open to negotiation. President Tatar was wrong to reject them out of hand without any attempts to negotiate and insisting that the TRNC must be recognised as a separate political state.
Nami said that adopting these proposals would be a realistic way of improving the economy.
“Everybody needs this. I hope that applications that will make our life easier with a more realistic policy will come to life. The current situation is very bad, it is not acceptable. To say accept the TRNC first and then let’s talk means that this will not happen, that we won’t be able to stand on our own feet. It’s a behaviour that can bring a heavy cost to the country. This proposal has to be negotiated without prejudice to known positions and made in a way that would benefit the community”, Nami said.
Those Not in Favour
Counter to this argument and regularly repeated by President Tatar and Ankara, BRT reported today that Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu emphasised that the only goal of the Greek Cypriot Confidence-Building Measures package is to consolidate the status of Cyprus as a Greek Cypriot state and the Turks as the minority in that state.
He said that he was surprised that some groups in Turkish Cypriot society had welcomed the proposal.
“The only goal of this package is to consolidate the status of the Greeks as the ‘state’ and the Turks as ‘a society in that state’”, he said.
Ertuğruloğlu noted that the aim of the new state policy of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was to reach a fair and lasting agreement on the Cyprus issue. The fact that the reality of two separate sovereign equal states was not adopted by some segments was not surprising, he continued:
“It is meaningful that they talk about the federation that has been negotiated for 60 years and no consensus has been reached”.