What will happen to north Cyprus?

unembargoedThere is always a discussion amongst “foreigners” about what will happen to the area north of the Green Line if the Cyprus Talks breakdown irretrievably, as it looks like they might. “Foreigners” are those people living here without the right to vote and to chose the group of people who decide what happens to them for a few years before the next lot get in. As it has been the policy of all governments here to, in effect, deny “foreigners” the right to vote then quite honestly our opinions will never seriously influence what the government does.

However, as the bard once sung, “money doesn’t talk it swears!” At the moment the north is propped up by money from Turkey, and Turkish Cypriots argue that this situation is all because of the embargo. So let’s just imagine a scenario where suddenly the whole world decides that it was time the embargo was lifted and, say on January 1st 2010, “The Northern Bit” as it becomes known, in order to try to please everyone, starts to trade on its own without Turkish support. As part of the EU it can now freely trade with the other members and so swiftly businesses here step up a gear and the owners sit drinking kahve waiting for order for goods and services to come pouring in.

So along comes Mr and Mrs Foreigner, citizens of the EU, and say “I’d like to buy one of them villas please and I’d like to put down my deposit in a protected bank account so the money will only be paid to the seller, along with the rest of money due, when the title deeds are transferred into my name.” You can almost see the words form in the seller’s throat, “well we don’t do it like that around here.”

Then there will be all those people pointing to EU practices they would expect an un-embargoed northern bit to adopt. Foreigners will even be wanting the vote next. They might even chain themselves to the gates in front of the parliament building and protest, or throw themselves in front of the President’s greyhound during an important race. You begin to see why perhaps in their hearts the local business people might not be all that interested in becoming un-embargoed, and in having to adopt  what have become universally accepted business practices in successful countries. In fact I doubt they even know what these business practices are or what phrases like “break-even analysis” mean or what an MBA qualification is.

Equally frightening to many locals is the prospect that they might become part of Turkey and have to accept the wages paid there, for example, or have to do what Karşiyaka’s Turkish imam is telling them to do. Some even dare to say the government is trying to clamp down on public service wages for that reason. I sometimes get the feeling that local businesses don’t want to join with the Greek Cypriots or with Turkey but at the same time they are terrified that they would fail if they had to stand on their own feet. But then I doubt that many people here would have thought through the implications of becoming un-embargoed, as they didn’t think about the impact of a housing boom on the infrastructure, but then this is only a “foreigner’s” opinion and as always we’ll be to blame.

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