May 30, 2016
By Esra Aygin
The fact that the northern part of Cyprus is inevitably moving towards annexation with Turkey unless there is a federal solution on the island became evident again this week as the right-wing coalition pushed forward two controversial agreements.
The 2016-2018 economic protocol with Turkey, which envisages the privatisation of key strategic institutions, and the agreement to establish a ‘coordination office’, which will, in essence, give authority to a Turkish Ministry over youth and sport issues have reignited debate over the assimilation of the north.
The economic protocol signed last week by the National Unity Party UBP-Democratic Party DP coalition and Turkey, envisages the privatisation of the ports, telecommunications and the electricity authority.
The protocol also envisages bringing electricity from Turkey to the north via cable.
Privatisation in the north, essentially means the transfer of institutions to Turkish companies and further economic control by Turkey in the private sector, since Turkish Cypriot companies lack the necessary capital and expertise to take part in such big tenders.
And foreign companies are usually not interested in investing in an unrecognised place, with contested land and property ownership and rules that are not business-friendly.
In another move, the coalition in the north brought to the assembly an agreement with Turkey on the establishment of a ‘Youth and Sports Coordination Office’ “with the aim of improving cooperation in youth and sports”.
While the office will provide mouth-watering funds for the improvement of sports in the north – an initial €4 million has already been pledged – authority over issues related to youth, education, culture and sports, including scholarships, camps and housing, would be transferred to the Turkish Ministry of Youth and Sports through this office.
Through the agreement, the office would provide grants for organising youth camps, establishing/improving sports facilities, creating youth centres, and organising educational, cultural and sporting activities for youth.
In return, it would take over the execution of all such projects and the operation of camps, housing and other facilities to be established.
The office will be headed by Turkish bureaucrats and all the staff of the office and the sports facilities, youth camps, culture and arts facilities will be employed by Turkey.
The agreement has to be approved by the Turkish Cypriot assembly before it can go into effect.
“If the Turkish Cypriot people’s assertion to govern itself is not limited only to the buffer zone, you should reject this agreement,” the newly-established People’s Party HP of the former Turkish Cypriot negotiator Kudret Ozersay told the assembly.
“The office to be established will have competencies far beyond coordination and replace our own institutions.”
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