By Fikri Toros…….
The link and the difference between peacebuilding and political conflict resolution must be noted .
Continued restrictions on bicommunal dialogue and cooperation are no doubt placing the call for peace and the ongoing need for reconciliation into serious jeopardy. Without social dialogue and economic cooperation, the underlying fear and paranoia influenced by the conflict will remain dominant at societal level, leaving the Greek Cypriot Leadership hesitant to demonstrate the political will required for United Federal Cyprus.
Throughout the most recent political negotiations, the necessity to bring the two communities closer to one another through cooperation at all levels was repeatedly emphasized. The Greek Cypriot Leadership has consistently been influenced by the conviction that cooperation during the conflict will uplift the status of the North, hence remained highly sceptical towards such necessity. Whilst the political conjuncture might have been fertile for peace, the socio-economic ground has deliberately been kept restricted and offered little incentive to support political risk-taking. If the Greek Cypriot Leadership is genuinely committed to a just and lasting settlement, then concrete moves such as full respect to consumers’ freedom of choice, economic and commercial activities strengthened by the creation of a sense of security towards common interests within prospective Federal Cyprus must be demonstrated. Development of a liberal economic environment offering synergical benefits, freedom of choice and joys of free competition, will take the political negotiations to a point of no return. By creating such an infrastructure that will enable the full potential of the Green Line Trade, deliver joint social, cultural and sportive initiatives now, we have the opportunity to transform the spoilers who are hindering the much needed political will. This is absolutely imperative, if Cypriots want an indefinite closure of the Cyprus conflict.
Whilst the EU Green Line Regulation ( GLR ) is an official channel for the movement of people, goods and services from North to the South pending a comprehensive settlement, the Greek Cypriot government has been using the acquis as a legal basis to downgrade the GLR. For instance, they argued against the bricks produced in the North, on the grounds that the manufacturers do not conform with the EU environmental rules and regulations. It is often claimed that the GLR creates unfair competition in the South. If this is the case, then obstructions on the EU harmonization process must stop immediately, to enable all pre-accession tools and assistance to be deployed by the European Commission to bring the North to the EU standards.
I call upon the Greek Cypriot government to put an end to their actions hindering cooperation with the Turkish Cypriot Community. I encourage them to publicly cease the prejudice towards Turkish Cypriot goods and services; and to free themselves from the phobia related to the harmonization of the North with the EU standards and directives. Political will, coupled with legislative amendments as appropriate, must be realized without further delay to allow the implementation of confidence building initiaves such as the interoperability of GSM networks on the Island. Their recent actions such as the prevention of tourists at the entry port of Larnaca; vandalism to Turkish Cypriot cars; physical reaction to the use of Turkish Cypriot mosaic flooring; and the prevention of foreign missions from organizing and attending events in the North must end immediately. Instead, authorities on either side of the divide must cooperate to engage control mechanisms aimed at ending uncontrolled trade and crime across the Island.