Amongst the main lies peddled by those seeking the division of Cyprus is the myth of Turkish Cypriot isolation. The argument goes that they should be “rewarded” for their courage in supporting a settlement, the Annan Plan, which legitimised their theft of Greek Cypriot property, whilst Greek Cypriots should be ‘punished’ for rejecting this settlement.
Accordingly their ‘isolation’ from the international community should cease and steps taken to begin direct trade with them. This approach has very much been driven by the UK and US governments, coincidentally no doubt those with the most to gain from the permanent division of the island on ethnic lines, which the Annan Plan would have created. But how real is this so-called isolation?
There is no doubt that the occupied area has under performed economically since the north of the island was ethnically cleansed of Greek Cypriots by Turkish forces in 1974. But with whom does this responsibility lie? After all, Greek Cypriots saw their economy devastated by the 1974 invasion, particularly in the tourist sector. And yet the free areas of Cyprus have not only recovered spectacularly since then but have also met all the relevant economic criteria for joining the EU.
The Turkish Cypriots complain that they are victims of an international embargo. Well they should take this up with Turkey. Turkey seeks nothing more than a client ‘state’ in the occupied area. That is why the European Court of Human Rights has referred to the occupied area as an autonomous province of Turkey. Turkey doesn’t care who populates it so has shipped tens of thousands of colonists to the area thus causing vast numbers of the indigenous Turkish Cypriots to leave.
On any economic analysis it is obvious that the real reasons for the under development of the occupied area are:
- The illegal status of the Turkish military occupation and the declaration of attempted secession, which was unsurprisingly recognised by no one other than Turkey
- The inept and inefficient economic system based on massive public intervention (underwritten by Turkey)
- The massive presence of Turkish illegal immigrants in Cyprus (now believed to exceed 160,000 colonists)
- The crippling dependency on Turkey
- Inadequate macroeconomic policies
- Political uncertainty as to the solution of the Cyprus issue.
It hardly takes an economist to understand that it is the illegal presence of 40,000 Turkish troops in the occupied area that is putting the rest of the world off doing business with the Turkish Cypriots. But having been responsible for causing the massive emigration of Turkish Cypriot from Cyprus to the UK, Canada and Australia, why should Turkey now care if it’s also to blame for any alleged embargo.
Nevertheless, for the UK and the US governments to now use this as stick with which to beat the Greek Cypriots is unacceptable. Their efforts would be better placed at encouraging Turkish Cypriots to reject the illegal occupation of the occupied area by Turkish forces and seeking a common future with Greek Cypriots in one genuine reunited island free from military occupation.