In a recent press statement, Prime Minister Irsen Kucuk offered a helping hand to Greek Cypriots across the border, stating that he thought that they were in a worse economic situation that the Turkish Cypriots were. I am sure that the Greek Cypriot leadership was both warmed and delighted by such an offer!
In fairness, it should be remembered that when the Vasiliko power station was seriously damaged by a munitions blast at the neighbouring naval base last year, the Turkish Cypriots did offer to supply electricity to the Greeks and that offer was promptly accepted. However, one cannot help feeling that in this most recent of offers, something about it smacks of playground type jeering.
Such heart-warming generosity is a little surprising given the shambolic state of the TRNC. Latest headlines state that the fight between El-Sen electric workers union and the government is escalating. Its union leaders threatening nationwide power cuts, and latterly targeting ministry offices because government departments are not paying their electricity bills. Although TL3.3 billion is in the pipeline (plus the pipeline itself) from Turkey, that money is conditional that it be invested in private industry and not used to shore up a non-productive state sector.
The Republic of Cyprus is struggling economically and its people are revolting against stringent cuts which are contingent on the loan agreement formulated with the Troika. Similarly, the huge aid package offered by Turkey to the TRNC is also contingent on reducing spending in the state sector, privatising Kib-Tek and Ercan (this is already done). The result being an inevitable backlash from the unions and many party politicians who feel that this deal was forced on them. Kucuk signed the deal recently, without giving details to the rest of the government.
So even if the money is coming, the TRNC is hardly in a position to offer a helping hand right now. However, there is nothing like rubbing someone’s nose in the dirt. Maybe it’s only to match the colour of its own?