Monday, August 23, 2004

Northern Cyprus still discriminated against

As our readers will remember the April referendum in Cyprus yielded a peculiar result. The Turkish side voted overwhelmingly for reunification, while the Greek side voted almost as overwhelmingly against it, hoping that they will get an even better deal if they show themselves to be as stubborn and unhelpful as possible.

They miscalculated slightly. Better conditions were not forthcoming but Greek Cyprus became a member of the EU, while Turkish Cyprus did not, which meant that Greek Cyprus (or Cyprus as it is known in the EU) can lobby on the subject of trade.

The immediate reaction on the part of the EU, once the general fury had died down, was to give Turkish Cyprus a large sum in aid and promise more. What, however, is needed much more, as ever, is the possibility of trade and the ending of the economic boycott.

As part of the EU package, there was an insistence of intra-island trade and this has now been reopened. According to the BBC correspondent in Nicosia:

"Less than an hour after the legislation was introduced, vegetable farmers and textile manufacturers were lining up to register their products."
But Turkish Cyprus wants direct trade with the EU countries. The present leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, had campaigned and was elected on that issue. If he does not produce the results, his fragile coalition might collapse. Few people would benefit from that, least of all the people of Northern Cyprus.

Direct trade was proposed as part of the package of measures to boost the economy in that part of the island but Greek Cyprus (or Cyprus – see above) lobbied against it. So, the EU, in a rather cowardly fashion, has postponed the decision till next month.

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