National Unity Party UBP and Democrat Party DP – two right-wing parties that traditionally advocate an independent state in the northern part of Cyprus and reject a federal settlement – have agreed to form a new coalition.
It comes at a time when genuine commitment is vital for the reunification process.
In almost 10 months of negotiations the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot sides have made significant progress in negotiations aimed at reunifying the island, and aim to reach a settlement by the end of 2016.
This narrow timeframe requires an intensive effort by the Turkish Cypriot side to make the necessary preparations to be able to function as part of a federation within the European Union from day one of the solution.
In recent months, bi-communal ad-hoc committees have been meeting under the auspices of the UN with experts from the European Commission, in an effort to bring Turkish Cypriot laws and institutions up to EU standards and meet the demands of EU law.
Teams from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have separately been working with Turkish Cypriots to make the necessary preparations for a solution in 2016 in areas like free movement of goods, taxation, customs and competition; and preparation for the adoption of the euro. There is concern that these efforts may be compromised with the new coalition.
“For the past six months all the bureaucrats have been working tirelessly to prepare for a solution and to minimise problems that may arise,” said a source close to the efforts.
“A new coalition in the north at a time like this has created concern. To what extent will these two parties, which haven’t internalised these efforts, lead the way?”
All managerial and decision-making positions in the Turkish Cypriot administrative structures, which are at the heart of the preparatory efforts, are political appointees and are likely to change with the incoming coalition.
Besides adapting its legislative and administrative framework to EU norms, Turkish Cypriots need to continue to work with the IMF and World Bank on measures to attain fiscal sustainability, reduce the development gap, minimise economic disparity, reduce economic risks and ensure a level playing field for its businesses.
Failure to take the necessary steps in time would not only create many complications for Turkish Cypriots post solution but also risk the functionality of the federal Cyprus.
The UBP-DP coalition protocol will be signed today and submitted to Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci tomorrow.
Earlier this week, Akinci felt the need to state that the will and determination to solve the Cyprus problem should be supported and said that he hoped to be able to work closely with the new coalition with regards the negotiations process.
“The new coalition will need to support the process as well as pressing ahead with the preparatory work,” the source said. “Otherwise, we will be faced with a lot of problems even if we manage to strike a settlement.”