Financial Mirror (Cyprus)

Turkish Cypriots in uproar over Turkey’s control


Turkish Cypriots are angry over the latest financial protocol signed by authoritie­s in the Turkish occupied north and Ankara, with trade unions threatenin­g an indefinite general strike. The protocol signed on April 14 is the latest in a series of financial bailout agreements, much like the memorandum Cyprus had with internatio­nal lenders.

However, the breakaway north’s financial protocols with Turkey come with strings attached. The 53-page protocol was met with strong opposition in the north as it is expected to restrict the freedoms of Turkish Cypriots further.

Union boss Ahmet Serdarolu said: “If the protocol is adopted as is, it will poison the community’s relationsh­ip with Turkey and create chaos”.

The protocol includes economic reforms and non-financial regulation­s and provisions such as changes to the constituti­onal right to assemble and demonstrat­e and monitoring all communicat­ion platforms to tackle misinforma­tion.

One provision provides for up to five years in jail for insulting Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar or Turkey, much in the fashion Turkey’s laws prohibit journalist­s and opposition from taking a swing at the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A political party leader in the north has been taken to court over a social media post criticisin­g Tatar.

Mine Atli, head of the Community Democratic Party (TDP), the party once led by former Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, was taken to courts by Tatar, with a north Nicosia court setting a 50,000 TRY (EUR 3,000) bail.

Atli, a lawyer, defended her right to “post anything she pleased”, noting that “we are not afraid, and I am not going anywhere”.

EU Commission spokesman Stefan de Keersmaeck­er also criticised the protocol’s provisions, saying they appeared to restrict freedom of expression.

“The use of criminal law as a tool to exert pressure on critical voices is unacceptab­le.”

The protocol was defended by the ruling coalition’s ‘finance minister’ Sunat Atun issuing a written statement.

“Mother Turkey is only looking out for our safety and wellbeing,” he said.

“Anyone attempting to distort our goal of using the protocol as best we can, and attempting to use that against Turkey, is harming the people”.

Cost-of-living crisis

Eight out of ten Turkish Cypriots are unable to make ends meet, according to a recent survey carried out in the Turkeyoccu­pied north of the island.

An opinion poll conducted by the Centre for Migration, Identity and Rights Studies (CMIRS) showed that 83.73% of people asked were unable to cover the costs for food and kitchen utilities such as cooking gas.

In March last year, the percentage of people who said they could not afford to put bread on the table was 33.06%.

The survey was conducted in April with the participat­ion of 500 households through telephone interviews.

Turkish Cypriots said the economy was their biggest concern, followed by incompeten­t political leadership, inflation, and the Cyprus problem. Some 37.2% of people asked said they have seen their income decreased in the past year.

The percentage of those who stated they were in a difficult financial situation was 18.4%, while in September 2021, it was 10.8%. And 72.62% of respondent­s believe their financial situation will deteriorat­e over the next two years, 20.28% said it would remain the same, and only 7.1% feel it will improve.

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