Cyprus Coda

After the referendum in Cyprus, I asked a friend of mine who works for the UN Development Program what the local mood was like:

really for the time being it is disappointment…with the amount of misinformation out and the also the tight timelines that were imposed….really hard to know who to blame, but I blame the GC [Greek Cypriot] radio/tv channels most of all…people want to be convinced i feel but they need not be pushed into something….easing of economic restrictions for the northern part would be inevitable i think….they deserve the credit for sure….

More in a couple of years, I suppose. In the meantime, travel to the North should be easier, and a baroque, possibly roccoco, thicket of regulations will spring up about how to treat the citizens of the North, the products of their labor, and every other little thing that the EU looks after.

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About Doug Merrill

Freelance journalist based in Tbilisi, following stints in Atlanta, Budapest, Munich, Warsaw and Washington. Worked for a German think tank, discovered it was incompatible with repaying US student loans. Spent two years in financial markets. Bicycled from Vilnius to Tallinn. Climbed highest mountains in two Alpine countries (the easy ones, though). American center-left, with strong yellow dog tendencies. Arrived in the Caucasus two weeks before its latest war.

6 thoughts on “Cyprus Coda

  1. I have a running bet with Doug Muir about the issue… I say that there is bound to be a second referendum *within a year* in the South, where the “Yes” vote will prevail. He says that, even if there is a second referendum (something which, I gather, he doubts), the “Nos’ will win again comfortably… Strictly a bragging-rights bet, although I wonder what kind of odds the bookmakers would give me…
    As I’ve mentioned before I think that AKEL has a good chance of finding a workable formula – and I think that the next initiative will originate from the EU and not the UN…

  2. Just so. I said that there won’t be a vote by next year (March 1); or that if there is, the “nos” will win by at least 2 to 1.

    Talos generously added a proviso that, if there’s a vote, and the “nos” win by less than 2 to 1, we’ll call it a draw.

    My take: what’s the motivation, either to have another vote, or to vote “yes” if there is one? There’s no powerful internal drive for Greek Cypriots to work out a peace plan with the Turks Grumble though they may, the status quo is actually not that bad. It’s not obvious how reunion with the north is going to make them richer or safer.

    So it’s not likely to happen unless some outside force twists arms. But of the possible candidates — Greece, the US, the EU — I don’t see any who are willing to make the serious investment of time, effort, and political capital that would be required.

    — The UN? Never had the necessary mojo, and anyhow they’re sucking on their burnt fingers just now. It’s not like there’s a lack of work for them elsewhere.

    So I think my money is safe. (Well, actually, I know it is, because I’m not betting any money here. But you know what I mean.)

    Doug M.

  3. I haven’t heard any EU politician speak about it, but now that Cyprus is part of the EU it is possible for the EU to apply more pressure then before. Having Northern Cyprus sign the Schengen treaty would be fun. (Iceland and Norway have also signed so it is a clear possibility.)

  4. now that Cyprus is part of the EU it is possible for the EU to apply more pressure then before.

    I disagree. EU “pressure” is a real phenomenon, but it tends to be slow, long-term, bureaucratic, and most effective on issues that are not central to perceived national interests. IOW, Brussels can nudge and nag, harass and haggle, but their power to actually twist arms and bang heads is pretty limited.

    This is putting aside issues like attention span and motivation. Right now it’s not even clear that Brussels /wants/ to apply much pressure. There’s a general air of finger-wagging indignation, sure, but that’s not the same thing. A consensus on policy will have to emerge, and that will take time.

    I can imagine a scenario where the EU eventually gropes its way to a consistent position on Cyprus. Then you get a Chinese Water Torture kind of scenario, with the aforementioned nudging, nagging, etc. etc. And I can imagine this eventually being effective, and Cyprus eventually holding another vote.

    But I think it’s going to take a lot longer than ten months. Two to five years, would be my bet.

    Doug M.

  5. Hmm. I see that the leader of DISY — the largest Cypriot party to support the UN plan — had a fragmentation grenade thrown at his house early this morning.

    He’d come under heavy (verbal) attack for supporting a “yes” vote, and also for complaining to the EU about the way Cyprus’ government was handling the vote. Leaders of the other parties had publicly questioned his patriotism, honesty, and sanity.

    On the plus side, all the Greek Cypriot parties have united in condemning the attack.

    Still. As I said, I think I’m on the safe side of that bet.

    Doug M.

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