IN HIS interview with Politis last Sunday, Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said that some 1,500 houses owned by Turkish Cypriots had been given to Greek Cypriot refugees and non-refugees as holiday homes for ludicrous monthly rents of between 10 and 15 euro.
His reference to an actor, “who had requested and had been granted a larger piece of land so it could be joined with his own”, was particularly interesting. This actor had written on his Facebook page “those who want a settlement are Turk spawn”. This reference is the answer to the question of why the settlement plan of 2004 was rejected by the Greek Cypriots and why they would do the same in any future plan.
Hasikos was correct to point out that the actor with the boundless audacity, “even if the perfect settlement was achieved would vote against it because he has a Turkish Cypriot property as a holiday home”. The conclusion arrived at from his other observation – that a large number of people in the free areas do not want any settlement because they believe the soaring price of their properties in the south is owed to the occupation of the north by Turkey – is also correct.
I had cited, in this space in 2004, the example of a village in the Paphos district, whose community leader, despite seeing the need the for a settlement, admitted that all the residents of his village voted ‘no’ because they feared that in the event of a solution, their land would go back to being worth peanuts. In 2004 a plot land in the village was valued at about 120,000 pounds whereas in 1974 for that money someone could have bought the whole village.
The Greek Cypriots that do not want a settlement – and they are the majority – can be put into different categories. Of the above examples, one belongs in the category of those who hold and exploit Turkish Cypriot properties while the other in the category of people that fear a settlement would reduce the value of their real estate.
Those in the first category should bear in mind that without a settlement, they will soon lose the properties they hold. Already a large number of Turkish Cypriots have taken legal action to have their properties returned and it is certain they will succeed.
Here are some other categories of rabid rejectionists. National Guard officers who fear they will lose their well-paid jobs, civil servants who fear their career prospects will be adversely affected, businessmen who are afraid there will be a mass movement of refugees and they will lose customers, people with refugee ID as they will lose the right to claim money from the state (for example assistance of between €20,000 and €30,000 for the building of a house).
And many businesses (for example big supermarkets etc) that have a large number of Turkish Cypriot customers are afraid that with a settlement the products they sell them will become available in the north after re-unification. According to official statistics, Turkish Cypriots spend €19 million annually on shopping in the south. There are many other categories of non-‘Turk spawn’ rejectionists.
In April 2009 an opinion poll conducted for the CyBC showed that the majority of Greek Cypriots supported partition. The same finding has been reached by many surveys carried out since then. However incredible this may seem, this is the naked truth.
Consequently, the attempt to find an agreement for re-unification was doomed from the start given that it will have to be approved by people who want partition. This is why I maintain that with a referendum, which is an unforgivable political stupidity, no settlement agreement will be approved.
Anastasiades and Akinci must consider ways of having it removed from the process, as Rauf Denktash is no longer around. The separate referendums were included in the process for the settlement of the Cyprus problem to bypass Denktash’s opposition to an agreement.