Some sort of equality

Some sort of equality

We are experiencing some very interesting days.

For example, how many people know that the two sides on Cyprus have silently managed to put into action a “roaming arrangement” enabling mobile phone operators of the two sides to provide their customers the chance to use their phones in each other’s territories?

It was more than three years ago when the two leaders of the divided island agreed to have a roaming arrangement. But the Greek Cypriot side backtracked, claiming such a move might be contributing to the “consolidation” of the Turkish Cypriot state. Now, those worries were apparently eradicated through a series of intense silent diplomacy, and last week the roaming arrangement went into force. Greeks will pay about 20 cents per minute to talk on their phones in North Cyprus, while Turkish Cypriots will pay about 80 cents for one-minute phone calls in South Cyprus.

Don’t be shocked to see the incredible disparity. It is almost the same regarding traffic insurance fees as well. With the money a Turkish Cypriot may obtain for a 30-day traffic insurance fee on the Greek side for his car (As the two sides don’t recognize each other, people travelling the other side must get a traffic insurance from there as well), a Greek Cypriot might purchase a three-month valid insurance for his car in the North. We might say the 70:30 ratio was applied the other way round. But this is not joke. The roaming arrangement is a huge step forward in confidence-building on the island, it should not be spoiled with the greed of some private companies. Indeed, considering the purchasing power of the two people of the island, the roaming charges in the South must be far cheaper for Turkish Cypriots than those applied to Greek Cypriots in the North.

Let’s hope the caravan will be completed on the road and all such oddities will be corrected in time. In any case it was like a celebration to see the roaming arrangement put into force.

Turkish Cyprus must now concentrate on explaining to the world from where the principle of equality emanated and why Greek Cypriots cannot legally and morally claim to be the sole, legitimate government representing the entire island and the entire population of the island.

Why have many U.N. secretary-generals, for example, stressed in their evaluations and reports that the relationship between the two communities of the island cannot be a minority-majority one, but rather one of the two peoples sharing the same homeland?

Now the Greek Cypriot side is busy trying to forge a “no” answer to a proposal by the Turkish Cypriot side which, very much like the 2012 offer, suggested the creation of an ad-hoc committee to administer the hydrocarbon riches and share it among the two people of the island. Greek Cypriots say Turkish Cypriots heated up and served the same old broth. Indeed. What’s wrong in suggesting to find a way of sharing wealth and saving a portion to finance a settlement rather than allowing that wealth to be a source of friction if not a cause for confrontation?

Now, I doubt it at this stage, but Greek Cypriot sources claim that off-Paphos drilling by Turkey’s Fatih ship was very successful and a bed of 170 billion metric cubes of natural gas might have been found. Insisting “whatever is on and around Cyprus is mine, but only mine” is not a sane approach. Greek Cypriots must learn the meaning of partnership and, of course, what it means to be political equals.

Yusuf Kanlı,