NOVEMBER 15 is the day of the year when students go protesting downtown, UK Cypriots demonstrate outside the Turkish embassy in London, our parties issue fiery, condemnatory announcements while the Turkish Cypriots organise events in the north to celebrate the anniversary of the unilateral declaration of independence (UDI). The declaration, which set up the ‘TRNC’ was made by Rauf Denktash in 1983, catching the Spyros Kyprianou government unawares.
Thirty-four years later, the ‘TRNC’ is recognised by no state other than Turkey or by any international organisation. Cyprus governments like to take credit for this and the foreign ministry’s main foreign policy objective is to prevent the so-called ‘upgrading’ of the pseudo-state by blocking its participation in international events and membership of international organisations.
The reason the pseudo-state has not been recognised is because the world powers do not want it to happen and not because of the foreign ministry’s efforts. Kosovo, which unilaterally declared its independence in 2008, gained diplomatic recognition as a sovereign state by 111 UN member-states because it had the support of the West.
Even if it were recognised, the ‘TRNC’ would still not be able to function properly as a self-sufficient state because it is too small to be economically viable. It currently requires about one billion dollars a year in financial assistance from Turkey to pay its public employees, while economic growth is fuelled almost exclusively by investment from Turkey. Its isolation may have contributed to slow growth and development, but despite its declaration of independence it remains a Turkish dependency.
Meanwhile, on the south side of the dividing line, preventing the ‘upgrading’ of the pseudo-state has become an end in itself, presented as the major achievement of our diplomacy. There seems to be little interest in pursuing reunification that would end the existence of the ‘TRNC’ and make the country whole again. People seem content with the way things are, issuing bellicose statements and protesting against UDI once a year.
It does not concern them that the pseudo-state has now been in existence for 34 years and is gradually becoming a province of Turkey, a status from which there will be no turning back.
Because it is a gradual process, there will be no anniversary date for our students to take to the streets, but it will fully materialise eventually and nothing our government or foreign ministry do will be able to prevent it.
Sharing borders with Turkey is not a fact anyone should look forward to.