Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

Has anybody really thought this through?

By Hermes Solomon

MANY in the south of the island believe that a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation will be catastrophic for Greek Cypriots, and they might be right.

The Barbaros provocations gave our politicians yet another chance to hide behind mother Greece’s skirt – the Cyprob talks ceasing abruptly with politicians and ‘entourage’ taking ‘breather’ trips to Cairo, Athens and Brussels.

Any excuse will do to create a hullaballoo. And for good reason – we are scared stiff of the Turks – not the Turkish Cypriots, but Erdogan’s ‘New Look Turkey’, which has a coastline of 7200 kms but no EEZ to the west or south – only to the north in the Black Sea, which Turkey agreed with the former USSR.

Turkey is a republic 85 times larger than all of Cyprus. Its population now exceeds 81 million of which 40 million (both sexes) between the age of 16 and 49 can be called to arms on demand; an army of pharaonic proportions.

Turkey’s GDP exceeds one trillion US dollars (ROC at around 23 billion dollars) with 2013 exports at 170 billion and imports of 242 billion dollars. Inflation stands at around eight percent and 17 percent of the population live below the poverty line.

Labour costs are much cheaper than in EU member states and many EU manufacturers have taken advantage of Turkey’s willingness to accommodate them. The fall in the value of the Turkish lira has also made Turkey hugely attractive to foreign investors. Whatever the economic slowdown suffered by Europe, Turkey is booming and now the world’s 17th largest economy!

Turkey was represented at the recent Australian G20 summit by Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, replacing Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who now serves as the incumbent 12th President of Turkey.

Both have been nick-named by several of the eleven main opposition political parties as the ‘Grand Vizier’ and ‘Sultan’ respectively – berating ‘the Sultan’ for building a controversial 1,000-room palace at a cost more than the original $615m price tag.

Does ‘the Sultan’ have early Ottoman Empire aspirations and is the Barbaros ‘affair’ an exercise in asserting the power behind his ‘throne’ (Taş That)?

Fear of the ‘New Look Turkey’ has tied Greek Cypriots ever tighter to their mother’s apron strings. Where else can we look for support at times of intimidation – the EU? Certainly not given the worsening strife endured by civilians in Eastern Ukraine!

Sharing in a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with Turkish Cypriots is one thing, but sharing anything with Turkey quite another.

Before any settlement is reached, will the south be expected to pay for the ‘74 invasion and the water that is on its way here from Turkey?

And what about the crossings, will they be removed? And exchange of land and property; is there an agreement on the cards? And what about citizenship for the 200,000 odd mainlanders living in the north, will it be granted?  And healthcare, will all residents of a bi-communal federation be entitled to swamp the south’s already sinking public healthcare service? And the Turkish lira, will it be replaced by the euro? And the civil service; will it need to be tripled in size to accommodate the two states and all new laws. And which will be the common language, Greek, Turkish or English? The police, the army, public works, etc. how will we in the south manage reunification when we can’t even put our own bankrupt house in order?

Has anybody thoroughly thought through the implications of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation given the present economic catastrophe suffered by the south? I doubt it. It might seem simple to some, but we Cypriots have the habit of complicating the simplest of administrative changes. Take NPL’s and insolvency law for example – months of indecision. Cyprus Airways closure, privatisation of the CTO, CYTA, AIK and the Port’s Authority, Town Hall debt, education and football hooligan ID’s – political parties seem to disagree on everything concerning home affairs never mind ‘foreign policy’.

I would just love to live long enough to see a re-unified island, but expect chaos to ensue following bi-zonal, bi-communal federation as both administrations fumble incapably with its implementation.  And then what; further intimidation from ‘the Sultan’..?

Why not cut the cake five ways – Armenian, Maronite, Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot and Latin? Oops, I forgot to cut some cake for the remaining 170,000 in the south made up of ex-pat residents and foreign workers plus those in the north, and the 200,000 odd mainland Turks…If you think our migration department. is in a mess at the moment just wait until ‘those northern hoards’ swamp the south – a reverse or hostile takeover?

There are still a thousand and one problems to solve at ‘home’ ahead of re-unification. We must not put the cart before the horse. Satisfying the troika’s MoU comes first then, just maybe, it might be followed by a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.

But agreement is one thing, implementation quite another. And if both sides persist in agreeing to disagree then both should accept land adjustments and permanent partition before it’s forced upon them.

Secretly, I think both north and south would be satisfied at that – refugees on both sides having suffered forty years of iniquitous mental cruelty at the hands of our meretricious politicians, whose inventories are unlimited. And, like their long, clean, white ‘breeches’, there is little of substance in either of them!

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