Turkish Cypriots have only themselves left to blame

One finger at you, three back at me

One finger at you, three back at me

The British left Cyprus some years back and the new generations which have grown up over the last 35-40 years now have to take responsibility! It’s easy to blame foreign influence – but the truth is that for the last 4 decades the TC’s have had control over their destiny! Though it is easy to generalise as there are good people in the TRNC, by and large there are many who see foreigners as a cash machine! Be it the lawyers, government officials, builders, construction companies and yes, even the little shop on the corner, the idea that the foreigners will ‘pay’ no matter what has been the guiding principle! You can get things ‘done’ if you have the ‘right’ connections and of course line the pocket of someone important!

Equally, those who come to the TRNC come with open eyes. The notion of what has been going on here has been in the public domain for a good number of years. They ignore the basic rule of ‘caveat emptor’ and are seduced by the sunshine and blue skies which eventually turn dull and grey by all the problems which they find themselves in!

The irony is that if the system was ‘fairer, transparent and just’ there would likely be more foreign investment coming here and there would essentially be a bigger pie for all to have a larger slice of the profits without scamming people.  The TC mentality seems to be one of ‘live for today’ and ‘get what you can’ be it by fair or foul means!  That is the sad part. In life it is the attitude and not aptitude which gives you altitude. The short-term approach of the TC’s by which I mean all in government, business etc. is short-changing the generations to come.

The basic tenet of this part of the island, being difficult if not impossible for foreigners, is making its mark. I don’t say the South is any better, I simply say that the North could and should have done a lot better as their need for doing this was greater! I hear daily of foreigners leaving the TRNC, some for health reasons but many because the TRNC ‘rules and governance’ has driven them to despair. But equally there are more foreigners coming so the wheel keeps turning!

It may sound like a ‘big’ task for TCs to clean up their act, however it actually isn’t. It simply requires the ‘will’ be it political or moral. Therein lies the problem. There simply isn’t the political will and as for moral will, I will let you make up your own minds!  To keep blaming the past for the current attitude of TCs is really just a joke.  If the culture is innately corrupt it can only change if there is a need to change. As long as foreigners keep coming and lining the pockets of the corrupt the culture is unlikely to change.

There is an old joke I hear often in the TRNC – how do you make £1 million Pounds here? Start with £3 Million! There is an honest ring to the punchline that many foreigners here may well identify with! Please do not misunderstand me, there are good TCs here as there are good people everywhere in the world. However, those who are in positions of power, influence and in business are allowing many of their colleagues to bend the rules and the legal system is too inept and practically toothless to stop any of this going on!

The next question is will this ever change?  If there was a need to change then there would be the political and moral will – as in many of the new members of the EU! I am not saying those countries still don’t have problems, especially Bulgaria and Romania, however they have come a long way since their opening gambit to join the EU.  At the moment there seems to be no practical reason to change. Even, if as I have argued, the long term benefit of change will be immense and that there will more likely be bigger and better investments coming here if the change was made – it seems that human nature is to savour what is here and now and forget tomorrow! Unfortunately too many TCs have ‘made’ money by doing actual very little and that way of life can become all too comfortable!

In the medium to long run there will be a ‘need’ for the TRNC and for TCs to change their attitudes. The money they have ‘made’ off the gullible foreigners will not last forever and as the Internet spreads the notion of the problems of setting up here, as well as the much higher cost of living than it used to be here, then it is more likely change will come about! It is simply a question of the ‘pain’ being great enough, i.e. fewer foreigners coming here that will engender the desire to change! I regret that it is unlikely to happen any time soon!

So, if you are a foreigner coming here to live, retire, work – just remember ‘Caveat Emptor’. If you keep insisting on things being done correctly maybe, just maybe, you will also set a precedence that foreigners are no longer willing to pay for the corruption that has mushroomed here!

We live in hope – but also in fear!

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