Cyprus storm over a few pills
Unfortunately, it is all about 2,000 chloroquine pills and some protective equipment. To what purpose will they serve particularly if an advanced version of the same pill – since the one provided by the Greek Cypriot side was reported to potentially cause loss of eyesight – is available in abundance in North Cyprus. Why did Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı request them? Why did he insist to slip them into the north without any customs formalities?
Prime Minister Ersin Tatar has been accusing Akıncı of undermining the state he has been heading for the past five years by requesting such a downgrading donation from the Greek Cypriot leadership while the material in question were available in abundance in North Cyrus. Also, the prime minister is accusing the president of trying to smuggle the Greek Cypriot donation into North Cyprus by bypassing all routine customs formalities required for any item being imported to the Turkish Cypriot state.
The president and Nicosia Mayor Mehmet Harmancı, on the other hand, have replied to the prime minister that they expected formal smuggling charges be filed against them. In the meantime, the chief prosecutor has commented that it was apparent customs rules that were being violated. Was it the first time? Unfortunately not, but this time, gods wished to see a crisis at the Metehan crossing point between the two communities of the eastern Mediterranean island.
The pills and the protective equipment were taken to the depot of the Health Ministry and taken under investigation to see whether and how they could be used in North Cyprus.
Obviously, it is neither the pills, nor the Greek Cypriot trivial donation that constituted the backbone of this new Cypriot controversy that added some color to the coronavirus-dominated lifestyle of the Turkish Cypriot people. The whole issue is the postponed presidential elections. Both Akıncı and Tatar – together with three other candidates – were running in the elections scheduled for this month but abruptly rescheduled for Oct. 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Akıncı, whose term expires officially on April 26 but was unconstitutionally extended by parliament despite clear stipulation that his term cannot exceed five full years, as well as Tatar have not abandoned campaigning despite the pandemic and the postponement of the poll date.
While Tatar has rather good ties with Ankara and has been frequently on the phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the vice president and other senior government officials, Akıncı has often been at odds with Erdoğan. While Tatar has been capitulating on his good accord with Erdoğan and demonstrating the importance to Turkish Cypriots of having a leader on good terms with their sole protector and financier Turkey, Akıncı most probably wanted to do something to show his electorate that he enjoyed the support of the Greek Cypriot and EU leaders.
However, while it embraced Greek Cypriots with a generous 800-million-euro immediate assistance, the EU extended Turkish Cypriots a negligible 5 million grant to be spent solely on health projects. That was a humiliation for Akıncı. He wanted to tell Turkish Cypriots that he is the sole leader who might reach Greek Cypriot leadership and get support, alas that did not work either as the total value of the Greek Cypriot donation of pills and healthcare equipment was estimated to be less than 5,000 euros.
Since he could not get elected only with the support of his own Communal Democracy Party (TDP) – which has around 7-8 percent popular support – Akıncı has been trying to show the socialists and other Turkey-skeptic groups that he is the sole candidate who could stand against Turkey, but Tatar is apparently determined to show everyone that Ankara is proven again as the sole supporter of North Cyprus and Akıncı in no way can have that support.
In the meantime, Turkey provided this week yet another planeload of emergency and medical donations to North Cyprus.