[Cyprus] Turkish Cypriots take to the streets to demonstrate against poverty

[Cyprus] Turkish Cypriots take to the streets to demonstrate against poverty
13 Apr 2022

In Cyprus, thousands of Turkish Cypriots have taken to the streets prompted to action by soaring inflation that has left many struggling to make ends meet. Demonstrators connected the financial demise to the north’s political agenda, Financial Mirror reports.

Last week, a general strike and demonstration organised by trade unions and left parties protested against policies leading to ‘socio-economic poverty’ promoted by the ruling coalition in the north and backed by Ankara.

Demonstrators chanted “No to poverty”, “Unity, Struggle, Solidarity”, and “We shall be victorious by resisting”. The protest is believed to be the biggest march in recent years and was reportedly reminiscent of the mass mobilisations in 2003-2004 during the UN-backed Annan Plan.

The protests come after the Turkish lira plummeted in recent months.

Mine Atli - the newly elected head of the Communal Democracy Party (TDP) - was actively involved in recent demonstrations, she told the Financial Mirror that Turkish Cypriots are now paying a hefty price for the breakaway state’s political agenda of increased financial and political dependence on Turkey.

TDP, once led by former Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, has shrunk, going from 10 per cent of the Turkish Cypriot vote to around 4 per cent but it still carries significant influence.

“We did not get to this state overnight. This is the result of the policies taken by ruling powers in the north over the past 40 years.

“We have grown to be entirely dependent on Turkey, and as a result, any crisis striking Turkey is felt multiple times more in the north.

“We have been kept from investing in our own resources and developing our own mechanisms,” Ms Atli said.

She contended that Ankara-backed policies had kept Turkish Cypriots from investing in energy projects and upgrades, literally leaving them in the dark due to frequent power cuts and having to pay fat bills for electricity.

Ms Atli said that a few months ago a monthly electricity bill for a four-member family was around 500 Turkish Lira; families are now paying triple that amount.

“Our salaries are in Turkish lira, but everything else is indexed to a foreign currency.

“Buying or renting a home is indexed to the GBP.

“All our imports from essential goods to vehicles are indexed to a foreign currency, which means that with the depreciation of the Turkish lira, our purchasing power has shrunk to nothing.” 

The currency was 16 against the euro when volatility returned in late February as Russian aggression escalated tensions rose between Moscow and Kyiv.

In the past six months, the lira has shed 55 per cent of its value against the euro.

“This is what we are protesting against, Ms Atli said.

“But we need to be clear. Without a solution to the Cyprus problem which will allow us to establish transparent institutions and make use of our resources, the Turkish Cypriot community is doomed to be pushed further into the arms of Turkey.”

Ms Atli said the two sides need to come together for Confidence Building Measures, as without them, the last glimmer of hope for a solution will be lost.

“If this doesn’t happen, Turkish Cypriots will turn to Turkey for more help, which will not come without its strings attached.”

 

Source: Financial Mirror

(Links and quotes via original reporting)

In Cyprus, thousands of Turkish Cypriots have taken to the streets prompted to action by soaring inflation that has left many struggling to make ends meet. Demonstrators connected the financial demise to the north’s political agenda, Financial Mirror reports.

Last week, a general strike and demonstration organised by trade unions and left parties protested against policies leading to ‘socio-economic poverty’ promoted by the ruling coalition in the north and backed by Ankara.

Demonstrators chanted “No to poverty”, “Unity, Struggle, Solidarity”, and “We shall be victorious by resisting”. The protest is believed to be the biggest march in recent years and was reportedly reminiscent of the mass mobilisations in 2003-2004 during the UN-backed Annan Plan.

The protests come after the Turkish lira plummeted in recent months.

Mine Atli - the newly elected head of the Communal Democracy Party (TDP) - was actively involved in recent demonstrations, she told the Financial Mirror that Turkish Cypriots are now paying a hefty price for the breakaway state’s political agenda of increased financial and political dependence on Turkey.

TDP, once led by former Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, has shrunk, going from 10 per cent of the Turkish Cypriot vote to around 4 per cent but it still carries significant influence.

“We did not get to this state overnight. This is the result of the policies taken by ruling powers in the north over the past 40 years.

“We have grown to be entirely dependent on Turkey, and as a result, any crisis striking Turkey is felt multiple times more in the north.

“We have been kept from investing in our own resources and developing our own mechanisms,” Ms Atli said.

She contended that Ankara-backed policies had kept Turkish Cypriots from investing in energy projects and upgrades, literally leaving them in the dark due to frequent power cuts and having to pay fat bills for electricity.

Ms Atli said that a few months ago a monthly electricity bill for a four-member family was around 500 Turkish Lira; families are now paying triple that amount.

“Our salaries are in Turkish lira, but everything else is indexed to a foreign currency.

“Buying or renting a home is indexed to the GBP.

“All our imports from essential goods to vehicles are indexed to a foreign currency, which means that with the depreciation of the Turkish lira, our purchasing power has shrunk to nothing.” 

The currency was 16 against the euro when volatility returned in late February as Russian aggression escalated tensions rose between Moscow and Kyiv.

In the past six months, the lira has shed 55 per cent of its value against the euro.

“This is what we are protesting against, Ms Atli said.

“But we need to be clear. Without a solution to the Cyprus problem which will allow us to establish transparent institutions and make use of our resources, the Turkish Cypriot community is doomed to be pushed further into the arms of Turkey.”

Ms Atli said the two sides need to come together for Confidence Building Measures, as without them, the last glimmer of hope for a solution will be lost.

“If this doesn’t happen, Turkish Cypriots will turn to Turkey for more help, which will not come without its strings attached.”

 

Source: Financial Mirror

(Links and quotes via original reporting)

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