It’s time for a new word on Cyprus
I also wrote during the presidential election process in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Developments during the election process changed many things in TRNC. Nothing is ever going to be the same. After the election, the scores didn’t settle. A new era has opened in the TRNC politics, as well as perhaps in relations between TRNC and Turkey. Definitely, there is a new era in Turkish Cypriot politics, and this situation may not last long.
A new government was formed. For the government partner political parties, of course, there is excitement and happiness. Probably celebrations, visits and over-confident statements might have been restrained. On Dec. 20, the National Unity Party (UBP) finally will convene a congress and elect Prime Minister Ersan Saner as its new chair, a seat vacated with Ersin Tatar becoming the president on Oct. 18. Saner’s election -- he is the sole candidate - will help settle the stones a bit.
Three lawmakers of the People’s Party (HP) who resigned and became independent and supported the new trilateral coalition did not leave the country without a government, but they also came under serious blame. In fact, development has not been stylish.
The HP went through a very serious process that eroded the strength and the popularity of the party. Recent resignations have left a serious mark on the party’s image. Perhaps soon, it might experience a very difficult time in the early elections, which are expected to take place in late summer or autumn of 2021. But for the HP the war is not yet lost. There is enough time for the party to regain public trust. As a matter of fact, HP’s support for the three-way coalition to overcome the quorum problem in parliament this week was much appreciated.
Of course, the UBP was not the only one to blame for the collapse of the UBP-HP coalition and the tensions in the presidential election process. The HP also has a contribution and responsibility for its mistakes in that troublesome period. The HP has now reached the point of making an existential decision. It is time for every individual who brought the HP to life, especially Kudret Özersay, to make a decision. They will have to understand that they have come to a take it or leave it point. It’s time for them to decide to make a new start or move on from civilian life to academia. Obviously, there is a place for the HP in Turkish Cypriot politics and the past few years testifies to this reality despite all the problems it endured.
The UBP is in government, and in a few days, it will go to a congress and must prepare for early elections in 2021. Saner, in a very short time, is in a place that he never expected. Now he is the prime minister and the sole leadership candidate at the Dec. 20’s party convention. In this case, he is certain to be the new leader of the UBP.
The Democrat Party (DP) does not deserve to be talked about. The New Birth Party (YDP) received its first-ever ministerial post in the new government. YDP President Erhan Arıklı has become the Economy and Energy minister.
The perennial argument of the YDP that there was discrimination in TRNC and that “those of Turkish origin cannot become director, undersecretary or minister” has collapsed. Arıklı’s appointment as the minister in the new government has shown everyone that in TRNC, regardless of the place of birth, everyone can become anything, including a minister.
Arıklı’s biggest test will be relations with the electricity institution and the union, which he was complaining about so much in the past.
In essence, the government in TRNC is not a long-term government of action. There is a government that’s going to lead the country into an early election process. It is understood from the coalition protocol that they did not clarify from the beginning about some important issues such as citizenship and the much-discussed issue of connecting TRNC to the Anatolian grid through an undersea cable. Such issues might lead to problems among coalition partners. New problems mean a new political crisis, which is the last thing TRNC may need.
In this case, is it possible that five plus one conference will be convened in the near future, and a new Cyprus talks process will begin? Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeated this week that the five-plus one Cyprus conference call he made earlier was still valid. But he said no one, including TRNC, should be discriminated against, all parties must be invited to the conference.
What’s to talk about? A two-state solution? The federal Cyprus utopia? The views of the parties are extremely strict and contradicting each other. Basically, there’s no basis for a Cyprus conference or new round of talks. Can a new ground for talks be formed soon?
At the last EU summit, Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean linked sanctions were postponed until March. This week some hurtful sanctions were imposed on Turkey by the United States. After the Biden administration takes over office on January 20th, in consultation with Washington, the EU apparently will make a decision on sanctions on Turkey in March. In short, the climate implies that pressure and tension will rise in Turkish relations with both Washington and the EU in the new year. If that’s the situation, then how sober might it be to talk about a new Cyprus process or resumption of Cyprus talks from where they were abandoned by Greek Cypriots at Crans Montana?
Such an assumption cannot be optimistic.