IT TOOK three years to achieve interoperability of mobile phones between the two sides. This was not because of complex technical difficulties that needed three years of work to deal with. In fact, interoperability could have been achieved in three days if the Cyprus government, but especially Greek Cypriot civil servants were able to overcome their recognition paranoia that informs all our dealings with the Turkish Cypriots.
In the case of mobile telephony there were the familiar worries that the Republic would be dealing with a provider licensed by the pseudo-state which would imply recognition and other such nonsense. Preventing the ‘upgrading’ of the ‘TRNC’ is the primary policy objective of our foreign ministry which wastes a lot of hours on this matter and regularly celebrates its alleged victories. It is thanks to this official petty-mindedness that the application for the halloumi PDO is still pending, despite President Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci having reached an agreement on how to proceed in 2016, in the presence of then European Commissioner Jean Claude Juncker.
This petty-mindedness was demonstrated by Diko which gravely said that the confidence-building measure on mobile telephony “raises a host of questions, that relate to possible upgrading of the authorities of the pseudo-state and, in parallel, the downgrading of the authorities of the Republic.” This talk of upgrading is so idiotic it defies belief. Maybe Diko or a top foreign ministry official could inform us how an internationally unrecognised state is upgraded? Does it become less unrecognised through the alleged ‘upgrading’ and is the Republic, ‘in parallel’, less of a sovereign state after the alleged ‘downgrading’?
The UN Secretary-General highlighted the issue of recognition in his report to the Security Council, recommending the extension of the Unficyp mandate. Having a clear dig at the Greek Cypriots he wrote: “In their efforts to promote closer cooperation between the communities, local and international actors continue to be confronted with challenges and obstacles linked to the status of the north and concerns related to ‘recognition’.” There were UN Security Council decisions that prevented the ‘recognition’ the fear of which is always cited as a pretext for avoiding any form of cooperation.
“While maintaining UN policy on Cyprus and making sure that decisions of the Security Council on this matter are upheld, concerns over ‘recognition’ should not in themselves constitute an insurmountable obstacle to increased co-operation,” his report said. Perhaps Guterres has not realised there are many in Cyprus that are happy to invent insurmountable obstacles to increased co-operation.