Transformation in North Cyprus with AK Party
SEFA KARAHASANMy first column’s title at daily Milliyet was “The agenda in Cyprus is complex.” In my article dated Jan. 7, I wrote, “There are interesting things going on in the island of Cyprus, the place the Turkish public has been monitoring for years because of the Cyprus issue. The Cyprus issue has almost been forgotten both by the Greek Cypriots and by the Turks.” I also pointed out that in the presidential elections held in South Cyprus, for the first time the Cyprus issue was not number one on the agenda.
The reason for this was that the economic cyclone that started during the former President Demetris Christofias’ term was the top agenda item in the elections. Now, a similar picture is being experienced in North Cyprus, which will hold early elections on July 28. In the early elections, the administration that will rule the country for five years will be determined. However, the streets are quiet and without enthusiasm. Instead of a campaign based on the Cyprus issue, at the top of the agenda are “economic programs, privatizations and citizenship.” Turkish Cypriots who have not noticed any activity in the Cyprus issue have started focusing on processes that closely concern their future lives.
What are the priorities?
For example privatization! While one segment “definitely” opposes privatization, one side favors the privatization of “those state enterprises that record losses.” For example, the electricity company has recorded a serious loss. It has millions of Turkish Liras of debt as it was not able to collect millions of liras. Top among those institutions that owe money to the electric company are government institutions. None of the government institutions, past or present, have paid their debts. Municipalities and certain “strong” businessmen do not pay their electricity bills. For this reason, the necessity of privatization arises for this company to be saved.
While one side “definitely” wants the continuation of the 2013-2015 Economic Cooperation Protocol signed with Turkey, another segment demands that the essentials of the program may be maintained but defend that there are sections that need to be changed. According to the protocol, Turkey’s economic contribution to North Cyprus increases to 3.5 billion liras. Again, one side defends that those who have settled in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (KKTC) from Turkey but who have not gained citizenships even though they have deserved it for years should immediately be made KKTC citizens; another side wants “citizenship to be given to those who deserve it, but there should be certain criteria set so that those who do not deserve it are not made citizens.”
Meanwhile, almost all the party leaders point out the need for the KKTC now to be able to stand on its feet, in a way, the obligation to stop being a “burden” on Turkey. Instead of a foreign-dependent economy, a KKTC where production and investment dominate is a prerequisite for the welfare of its people as well as providing stronger arguments in the solution process. It is a reality that the mentality that has been maintained up until now but that is trying to be overcome with the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, the one that goes “Turkey should pay,” is outdated and does not function as it used to. “For the KKTC to be able to stand on its feet, for it to be a prudent state,” the importance of the relationship with Turkey becomes sensitive right at that stage.
Politicians are aware that the AK Party government does not want to see a KKTC as before, that it wants to see a “state-like state” with production, investment, functioning sectors, with establishments working productively, and that cooperation protocols are handled based on these. The July 28 elections will show how much the Turkish Cypriot people adopt these arguments.
This article is taken from daily Milliyet’s website.