Greek Cypriot business leader’s Hong Kong-Turkey allegory angers parties
Ömer Bilge - NICOSIAAn allegory by Christos Michaelides, the chairman of the Greek Cyprus’ top business body, who told Hürriyet Daily News that the divided island can become to Turkey what Hong Kong is to China if peace is achieved, has sparked controversy and criticism.
The Movement for Social Democracy (EDEK), an opposition party, accused Michaelides, head of the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation, of levity, calling him on to avoid partisan propaganda, in its written statement.
“Serious and balanced statements, not partisan propaganda that overstep the limit, are expected from serious investors. What Michaelides made was a ridiculous analysis unaware of economy,” it said, claiming his statement even more ridiculous than a former statement by Greek Cypriot Nicos Anastasiades, who said a resolution on the Cyprus issue would double the gross national product in two decades.
The Democratic Party (DIKO) named Michaelides’ statement as intolerable. The European Party (EURE.KO) also joined the criticism. “Economic elements and investors should look at themselves. They should leave politics to politicians,” it said.
A Greek Cypriot newspaper even used the phrase “Hong Kong-Style Colony” as its headline for its report on the dispute.
Still, Michaelides stood behind his words.
“We have never parted ways with the political dimension of the country’s eternal theses. However, a resolution will bring in important economic benefits,” he said,
Michaelides told Hürriyet Daily News’ Barçın Yinanç last week that if a lasting and functional peace is reached in Cyprus, the reunited island could become to Turkey what Hong Kong is to China.
“Cyprus is already a business center and it has intensely developed relations with so many countries,” he said.
“We have all become wiser,” Michaelides said, explaining the change among Greek Cypriot business circles, which have become more vocal for a solution.
“Political, regional and economic parameters put together create a synergy that brings us really near to a solution this time,” said Michaelides, who was in the northern part of the island to sign a protocol setting up the Cyprus Business Forum with the Turkish Cypriot business community.