Turkey is pressuring the TRNC to reform its political system and economy amid growing public discontent with the administration as diplomatic moves to resume talks on the island’s reunification gain speed.
Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay met with TRNC Prime Minister Irsen Kucuk on April 29 and presented a comprehensive study conducted by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) which reflects the growing displeasure of the public over the status of the country.
Kucuk was reportedly annoyed after the presentation. Atalay urged Turkish Cypriot officials to take the report seriously, according to official sources. “We also use surveys to decide our moves in Turkey, there is a problem here that should be addressed,” Atalay reportedly said.
The report said the majority of Turkish Cypriots are pessimistic about the future due to various reasons. During his visit, Atalay said Ankara was ready to extend every kind of support to develop the country’s economy. “Our priority is a strong and a sustainable economy for Turkish Cyprus,” he said.
The report, titled “Economic and Administrative Priorities of Reform in Turkish Cyprus,” said political uncertainty was contributing to the public’s negative perception of the country’s status and future. 62% of Turkish Cypriots are not happy with the socio-economic status of the country, while only 14% said they were content. 49% of them said the future would be worse than present, versus just 17% who said it would be better.
The report, which is based on recent studies of the foundation, aims to restructure the TRNC so that it will have its own policy-making mechanism and foster management skills. It said Turkish Cypriots have a strong perception that they will not be able to sustain their current lifestyle, making it difficult to plan for the future. Due to a lack of a “future vision,” public administration reform cannot be made, the report said, adding that this should emerge from social negotiation and that the reform process should be designated as a process that builds upon itself.
Nearly 30% of the public, however, said any possible reforms would have no chance of success, while 77% said public support would be necessary to ensure the reform program’s success. Some 70% of respondents also said the program should be embraced by the Turkish Cypriot government, while 36% said Turkey needed to extend support in making the new program.
The report also revealed that the majority of Turkish Cypriots, some 70%, demand partial or comprehensive reform. Forty-two% of the public, meanwhile, said the machinery of the state should be totally reformed, while 26 %said there should comprehensive reforms.
The push from Ankara came as diplomacy over reunification intensified, as both Turkey and North Cyprus are urging the United Nations to resume talks. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with U.N. envoy Alexander Downer on the same day Atalay met with Kucuk and repeated the Turkish side’s demand for the U.N. to launch reunification talks on the island “as soon as possible.”
The report also lists the priorities of the reform process, namely, strengthening the “centre” of the state, which includes political coordination and financial management, improving public services and launching a structural transformation of the economy.