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Cyprus

Coalition talks in north focus on Turkey aid protocol

Mustafa Akinci

TURKISH Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has handed the mandate for a new ‘government’ to the leader of the National Unity Party (UBP), Huseyin Ozgurgun, it was announced on Friday.

According to Bayrak TV, Ozgurgun said that he took this decision after talks with various political parties and the independent deputies. UBP, which has 18 seats in the Turkish Cypriot assembly, needs eight more to form a new ‘government’.  Ozgurgun said he will continue talks with the other parties to find a coalition partner.

Meanwhile, the head of the Democratic Party (DP) Serdar Denktas announced his party is ready to form a coalition with the UBP following the previous administration’s collapse earlier in the week.

According to Turkish Cypriot media, Denktas announced that his party prefers to cooperate with the UBP, which was a coalition partner in the outgoing ‘government’ but had a falling out with the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), over the delay in signing the agreement protocol with Turkey. The delay led to a halt in financial aid to the north as of January, causing difficulty in the payment of salaries of public sector employees.

Since the resignation of CTP’s ‘prime minister’ Ömer Kalyoncu on Tuesday, political parties in the north have held several meetings to explore coalition prospects.

Denktas, according to the Cyprus News Agency, said that the UBP offered his party three cabinet portfolios – finance, education and environment – which they have already accepted.

He added that they discussed in length the economic protocol and talks on the issue will not drag out for long.

Commenting on whether the specific coalition will support the settlement talks of the Cyprus problem, Denktas said that negotiations will continue and that he supports Akinci. He said however, that he does not trust the Greek Cypriot side as he believes it is “not sincere”.

“If the Greek Cypriot side appears to have the honesty and the good will that we have shown, then I believe that a solution can be reached. Otherwise, there is a huge problem,” he said.

Akinci, in his turn said that the crisis in the north does not affect the peace process. Speaking to Hurriyet, he said, however, that if this leads to early elections it will affect the talks.

He added that he is an impartial ‘president’ and that he does not favour any political party, but he only wishes for a model that will “win the approval of the parliament, solve citizens’ problems, and work harmoniously” during negotiations for a federal system to be established with the Greek Cypriot community.

But the parliamentary elections in the government controlled areas have slowed down the talks, Akinci said.

“The Greek side does not like it when I say it, but this is a truth. There are parliamentary elections there in May. This unavoidably affects the negotiations table, because we are going through a sensitive period and attitudes during the election process change things”, Akinci said.

However, Akinci said that he still believes a deal could be reached before the end of this year.

“Me and the Greek Cypriot leader have expressed that this can happen but we cannot expect it to happen by itself within a short span of time,” he said. He added that the pace of talks needs to be stepped up in order to reach this aim.

Even though there has been progress in four out of six chapters being negotiated in the peace talks, Akinci said, this is “not enough.” The two untouched chapters concern territorial adjustments as well as security and guarantee issues, he said.

The strong reactions to the financial agreement protocol arise from the fact that this is deemed by a number of political parties that it tightens Turkey’s grip over the north.

CTP leader Mehmet Ali Talat was reported as saying that the economic protocol with Turkey includes a number of vital issues which are unacceptable. He added that his party disagrees with the proposed privatisation of the distribution section of the electricity authority in the north, the closing down of the state planning organisation (DPÖ), and interference with the judiciary.

Talat also said that they had agreed in writing with the UBP as regards the protocol, but when their delegation went to Turkey, the representatives of the UBP supported the objections riased by the Turkish bureaucrats.

Cemal Ozyigit, leader of the Social Democracy Party (TDP), has said that the only thing missing from the reform package which caused the collapse of the ‘government’ was the appointment of a governor (from Turkey).

He said that his party would not be part of a scenario of giving away the electricity authority, communications and the ports, leaving the employees without the support of a trade union and forcing them to migrate.

The head of the Cyprus Turkish Secondary School Teachers’ Union (KTOEOS), Tahir Gokcebel, said that the protocol promises economic stability, productivity and reform, but that in reality is trying to complete the steps of a political, ideological, rent-seeking structure.

If this protocol is imposed on Turkish Cypriots, he said, it will even be the end of the Cyprus talks as this package is not economic, but “completely ideological and political.”

 

 


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