A new era in northern Cyprus

A new era in northern Cyprus

There is total confusion. The four-party coalition government collapsed. Despite claims that Ankara concocted a two-way coalition government of the National Unity Party (UBP) and People’s Party (HP) after many rounds of talks between leaders of the two parties, a deal is not yet completed. Still, the general anticipation is that if not today, tomorrow a new government will be established in northern Cyprus.

The security as well as hydrocarbon developments in the eastern Mediterranean, the situation between Turkey and the European Union, and France joining a list of countries that has given base rights to the Greek Cypriot state in full violation of the 1960 agreements and the Constitution of Cyprus made it all the more important to establish a firm, nationalist and definitely capable government. A capable government is needed not only to provide remedies to the problems of northern Cyprus exacerbated because of the incapability of the four-way socialist-led coalition government or the pro-Greek undertakings of the empathy-ridden President Mustafa Akıncı. More so, in the absence of a firm government in northern Cyprus neither Turkish and Turkish Cypriot hydrocarbon rights nor security interests might be adequately politically defended.

Days passed since President Akıncı designated National Unity Party (UBP) leader Ersin Tatar to form the new government. There were claims even before the collapse of the four-way government that the UBP was in coalition talks, through Turkey’s good offices, with the People’s Party of former chief negotiator Kudret Özersay. Of course, everything is possible in politics, but if after one week the two leaders and their teams still continue discussions on not only distribution of seats and key governmental institutions but also the terms of cooperation between themselves. It must be clear the claims that Ankara concocted a coalition to its liking and collapsed the four-way coalition.

The two parties will muster a 30-seat majority in the 50-seat unicameral parliament. With the support of two other conservative or nationalist parties such a government can even easily make amendments in the constitution – a move that requires two-thirds parliamentary majority. The four conservative parties in parliament have a total of 35 seats, but the Democrat Party and the New Birth Party are currently not involved in any way in coalition talks.

Of course, there are important ministries as well as governmental departments that potential government partners might need to discuss how to share. Naturally, the expectation is that the two sides must as well discuss ways to avoid appointment of people who or their close associates, might be facing allegations of wrongdoing. Particularly the finance ministry, the tourism ministry and such key posts are important.

UBP leader Ersin Tatar and HP leader Kudret Özersay – as well as some other people involved in the coalition talks – are close friends who I trust have excellent capability and political will to walk the road of coalition. UBP-HP coalition is an important opportunity for the Turkish Cypriot state and people; it should not be wasted.

There are courts in northern Cyprus

I cannot say I appreciate Şener Levent. He has always been a maverick. His Afrika newspaper has always been source of evil propaganda against the Turkish Cypriot state as well as Turkey. Freedom of expression, media freedom, on the other hand, requires respect to even Afrika.

When the newspaper and its editors were attacked by a nationalist mob because it ran a cartoon of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, I was one of the few that publicly opposed such actions as totally unacceptable. Indeed, I found the cartoon insulting and deplorable and yet within the scope of freedom of thought.

Şener and many people like him have been depicting northern Cyprus as a puppet of Turkey. A Turkish Cypriot court, however, produced a verdict on that case – a case opened originally by the former Turkish ambassador to northern Cyprus – stressing that the cartoon was within the scope of freedom of expression, Turkey-northern Cyprus relations were not affected and there was no intention to ridicule Erdoğan. It said the cartoon reflected not the editor’s views but rather how Turkey and Turks were perceived by the Greeks.

What else can I say other than repeat an old expression? There are courts and judges in northern Cyprus.