August 8, 2022

By Fikri Toros…..
President of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce

Treatment Of Distrust

Peace processes invariably generate spoilers, the most common of which is distrust between the conflicted parties. This is aggravated by sceptics who advocate the status quo by dwelling on divisive, if not isolationist means to derail the peace process. In democratic environments such as Cyprus, where opponents of a federal settlement plan lack the capacity to use force, they may instead try to manipulate existing institutions, legal mechanisms, or public opinion to undermine the prospects of reconciliation.

Preventing spoilers from derailing negotiations requires enhancement of ECONOMIC and SOCIETAL cooperation, which will place the process to a PATH OF NO RETURN. The Chambers of Commerce have initiated a number of such projects and presented them to the Leaders. Sadly, the Greek Cypriot Leadership has always looked at them in apprehension, arguing that “the implementation of such projects will not only uplift the status of the State in the North, but will also decrease the motivation of Turkish Cypriots towards a settlement”.

I am afraid this is nothing more than a phobia, hence it needs to be questioned.

Has the trade through the EU Green Line Regulation led to such an outcome?

Has the 430 million Euro European Aid through the EU Financial Aid Regulation?

Or the sale of electricity to the South following the explosion at the power plant?

Or the interconnection of the electricity grids?

Or the freedom of movement of people between North and South?

Or Greek Cypriots spending holidays in the North, or even going to excursions in Turkey from Ercan Airport?

Or young entrepreneurs receiving internship in the other community?

Or bicommunal start-up projects?

….and the list goes on.

Let’s all hope that the settlement process will resume in April, in an environment where the participatory element it had promised in February 2014 is honoured and where BUSINESS and POLITICS INTERSECT. The prospects of a settlement MUST BE DEMONSTRATED to the communities to restore the much jeopardized societal faith. PRAGMATIC and SPEEDY moves must be propelled by WILLPOWER. INTERNATIONAL HELP must be sought to overcome inhibition when it comes to making simultaneous compromises. A date must be set to finalize the political agreement, and Leaders must refrain from levying sense of uncertainty to both Communities.

Let us be reminded that no peace agreement has been possible without COMPROMISE and FORGIVENESS, nor without the engagement of BUSINESS. Economics is a crucial element of peace processes; after all there has to be a satisfactory answer to the question we all ask ourselves:

“What will be in it for me?”

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