Ozdil Nami: Cyprus issue and bad economy dominate Sunday’s ‘general election’

Turkish Cypriots in breakaway northern Cyprus go to the polls on Sunday for a snap ‘general election’ with the Cyprus issue and poor economy as main concerns. The competition came a year in advance.

Former chief negotiator Ozdil Nami, who also served as “finance minister”, gives his views on the political landscape in the Turkish-controlled north.

In an interview with Frixos Dalitis by Phileleftheros Nami focused on the main criteria behind the ‘vote’ of Turkish Cypriots and the choices they have before them.

He specifically referred to the big differences between right-wing and left-wing parties both when it comes to the Cyprus issue and the economy.

Here is the full interview:

— What is your assessment of Sunday’s elections?

As with every election, Sunday’s general election is important. There is a clear division between left and right parties, especially regarding the future handling of the Cyprus issue as well as the economy. We can therefore say that it will be a vote on the future vision of the Turkish Cypriots.

With regard to the Cyprus problem, in general, the right-wing parties all defend the current two-state policy, while the left wants to see the talks resumed on the basis of the parameters of the United Nations, but within a limited time frame and results oriented.

Regarding the economy, the right wing parties promote increased ties with Turkey and they want to continue using the Turkish Lira as the only official currency while the left thinks that the current high inflation/devaluation of the Turkish Lira does not is not something that our economy can bear and wishes to adopt the euro as the currency of account in stages. Similarly, the right believes in maintaining the current system of signing economic protocols with Turkey to obtain financial support while the left believes that this system has proven to be flawed and that a new, more reliable and less interventionist system is needed. .

—Where is the abstention movement attributed and what impact do you think it will have on the results?

We see a call for abstention in all elections. This election is no different. Usually, the claim to support this call for abstention stems from a feeling of helplessness and resignation. Voters feel that neither the Greek Cypriot side nor Turkey currently has the political will required to resolve the Cyprus issue in a mutually agreed way. It is therefore extremely difficult, if not impossible, to change things for the better, whether on the economic level or social problems. Some also don’t believe that we can have fair elections based on what they observed in the last presidential elections. Personally, I don’t share their assessment that the best course of action is not to vote because I don’t believe abstention can affect change for the better, but as I understand it, that’s how they justify their calls not to vote.

— What will the current result mean for the Turkish Cypriots? Do you think this will also have an impact on the Cyprus issue?

Each election is a decision for the future and each decision has its consequences. A success from the left will start a process of rethinking both the Cyprus issue and economic relations with Turkey, while a right-wing government will mean more or less the same when there is no significant change in the situation. one of the main problems facing us, including the Cyprus question. publish.

A right-wing government could take other unilateral steps, such as opening the closed city of Varosha, while a left-wing government would pursue a policy of action in line with existing UN Security Council resolutions. However, we have to recognize that when it comes to the Cyprus issue, the question is whether the Greek Cypriot leadership is ready to embark on a new process that will be time-bound and result-oriented. A left-wing government can try to work with President Tatar to pursue a new policy that puts pressure on the Greek Cypriot leadership to make progress on the Cyprus issue by demanding the resumption of talks for a federal solution while demanding a clear result that changes the status quo on the island at the end of the process.

—How do you assess the state of the economy and how will this affect the outcome today?

As you know, the ‘TRNC’ is the only country in the world other than Turkey that uses the Turkish Lira as its ‘official’ currency. When the Turkish lira is stable with low inflation and low devaluation, there is no problem. However, we are now witnessing a rapid increase in inflation which acts as an indirect tax. As Turkish lira users, we pay this tax like any Turkish citizen in Turkey and like them, our purchasing power is also rapidly decreasing.

This is currently the most pressing economic problem we need to tackle. We also continue to face the obstacles created by the Greek Cypriot administration to prevent the effective implementation of the EU Green Line regulation as well as the implementation of isolation policies that hinder economic development. in the north. All of these factors, when combined, make it very difficult to have a strong economy.

All opinion polls indicate that the economic situation is the number one problem for the voter and they are inclined to make their decision on their perception of who can help them the most in these difficult times. Given the fact that the doors are being closed to us by the EU and GC leadership for more international trade and investment, the main source of hope is still seen as deeper economic integration with Turkey. Right-wing parties are using this as their main campaign promise and it will likely have a big impact on the outcome.

— How important will the role of external factors be in the outcome? Are you worried about interference like in previous elections Tatar won?

We haven’t seen interference similar to that seen in the last “presidential” election, but that doesn’t mean a softer message hasn’t been delivered. I have the impression that the voter reacts negatively to such interference when it is done in a brutal way.

—What is your view on the current political situation of the Turkish Cypriot community?

The overall outlook is far from ideal. People find it very difficult to find reason to hope that things can change for the better in the short term. The Covid situation has added to the difficulties we are already facing due to the Cyprus issue and people believe that solutions to these problems require a change of mindset from our neighbors rather than our domestic politics.

The result is a focus on self-interest and short-term survival. This, of course, is what populist parties feed on. Nevertheless, the Turkish Cypriot community has proven its resilience in the past and has overcome even more difficult situations. I like to believe that we will find this spirit to find the way to a better future.

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