Anxiety rules on Cyprus

Anxiety rules on Cyprus

On both sides of the Cyprus green line dividing the island into northern Turkish Cypriot and southern Greek Cypriot territories there is growing anxiety nowadays. In the Greek Cypriot quarter of the island, several thousand bankers will be laid off from the collapsed but still kept afloat banks; in the Turkish section not only early elections are called for July 28, this coming week the government will be ousted with a no confidence vote – thanks to eight deputies who deserted the ruling National Unity Party (UBP) and aligned with the opposition.

Obviously selling gold reserves, privatizing the few, already bankrupt, state concerns or introducing some austerity measures would be peanuts and would not suffice to raise the “domestic portion” of the rescue package Greek Cypriots signed with the IMF and the eurozone. How such measures would suffice in view of the fact that overall gross national product of Greek Cyprus is around 18.5 billion euros while the amount they were compelled to accept to raise in the package was almost 14 billion euros? Laying off workers, particularly from the banks that triggered the crisis with nationalistic Greek bailout bond purchases totaling several billion euros, was inevitable. Now, within days some 1500 people will be sacked from the Bank of Cyprus and more will inevitably come. Thus for anyone with some brains, the absurdity of the demand for Greek Cypriots to be given time until September or so to deal with the crisis before resuming peace talks becomes all the more obvious. Would this make any difference? No, while Turkish Cypriots were pushed into talks days after their leader had heart surgery and the process did not stop during the election period, Greek Cypriots are allowed to hide behind the crisis. For God’s sake, see it, Greek Cypriots don’t want a resolution they have been playing for time in hopes that Turkish Cypriots will be exhausted and surrender.

Last night the two leaders were to come together at a UN-arranged dinner, the first since Nikos Anastasiades was elected Greek Cypriot leader. For Turkish Cypriots the dinner was wanted to help revive the talks, Greek Cypriots had adamantly been claiming that it would only be a social event. Furthermore, the confused Anastasiades declared that when the talks were revived, he would start negotiating from scratch. Unless some arm twisting is not employed, it is obvious that, put aside a Cyprus deal, Greek Cypriots will not even come to the negotiation table.

In the north, on the other hand, the fight between the president and the prime minister as well as between the Ankara government treating north Cyprus like a colony and those insisting to have some degree of autonomy, is continuing full swing. The eight deputies that deserted the ruling UBP and formed a “National Powers” alliance with Serdar Denktaş helped the opposition to garner enough parliamentary support to oust the government. The no confidence vote process is tentatively set for this coming Thursday. In the mean time, an early election decision was taken and the north will go to early polls on July 28. Thus, election bans will be in force as of June 3.

It is yet too early to predict the outcome. As Turkish Cypriots are apparently frustrated with all political parties, it is anticipated that three NGOs demanding transparent and clean politics, including the one headed by former chief negotiator Kudret Özersay, will play an important role in the outcome of the elections.