By Kathy Martin…
Written May 2015
Britain has a majority Conservative government since the general election on 7th May, a situation that was not expected from the opinion polls.
Excellent, super, great!
Never having been a traditionalistic “party” person (“I always vote for brand X” person) I have no axe to grind for or against any particular party, but let’s take a close look at the maths.
Firstly, I believe that 66%, in other words only two thirds, of the electorate bothered to vote.
Without mentioning, in my personal opinion, that voting should be compulsory, the Conservatives only won 37% (slightly over ONE THIRD) of the votes cast, yet, despite nearly TWO THIRDS of the electorate voting them NOT to be in Westminster the Conservatives gained the majority (331) of seats in the Parliament!
OK, more maths, readers, if a party with an approximately one third of the votes gets 331 seats, how many seats will a party, now statistically the party with the third highest number of supporters get, 110?
No, only ONE!
The Conservatives, as shown above gained 37% of the votes while UKIP gained 13% (one third of the Conservatives votes) but didn’t get 13% of the “parliamentary majority”, or even 13% of the total seats in Westminster, in fact it only got one!
How can Britain unblushingly call itself a democracy? Proportional Representation is urgently required! As the “big two” parties, Conservative and Labour, will have the most to lose if PR is introduced, they, their “tame” press and supporters will vociferously “harrumph” against it, isn’t it time for the wishes of all of the electorate to be acknowledged?
Under Proportional Representation each and every vote will count!
Meanwhile, here in Kibris our new President, Mustafa Akıncı has had a “get to know you” dinner with his Greek Cypriot (GC) counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades. During, or perhaps after this event, it was announced that the “peace” talks would resume on Friday, 15th May.
At this announcement flags and bunting of many colours were unfurled, bands played rousing music and people danced spontaneously with anticipatory abandon in the streets!
Or did they?
People (ex-pats, I will get to Turkish Cypriot (TC) citizens later) like ourselves who have lived and or worked here for a decade or more have become somewhat jaded and don’t expect that there will ever be a “settlement” here until reality is faced and accepted.
Leaving aside, for the moment, the history of about half a century or more ago, there now exists two countries on this island.
One (south of the Green Line) is a nominally Christian – Greek Orthodox – country with a Greek Cypriot government.
North of the Green Line is a nominally Islamic country with a Turkish Cypriot government.
I know that I have thumped this tub, or beaten this drum before, but there are two disparate cultures and environments on the island of Cyprus. Until the United Nations, the European Union, and indeed the rest of the world realise and accept this, just as “fish are different from fowl”, there will NEVER be a settlement that is acceptable to both communities!
As stated a couple of paragraphs ago, I will now mention the views of ALL (not just some) of our Turkish Cypriot friends and acquaintances.
Eleven years ago, in 2004, the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, proposed a “settlement” that became known (naturally) as the “Annan Plan”. Under this plan, which could only be implemented after a “yes” vote in a referendum in which the citizens of both communities were eligible to vote, the Greek Cypriots would gain large tracts of territory in North Cyprus.
Because the United Nations and the European Union feared that the Turkish Cypriots would vote “no” because they would be the losers, a promise was made that the trade embargos and isolation of the TRNC would be lifted if they voted “yes”.
As a result, dutifully and expectantly, most of our Turkish Cypriot friends and their relations voted “yes” along with a majority of the Turkish Cypriots. However, the Greek Cypriots voted “no”, and the Annan Plan was never implemented.
However, when it came to lifting the trade embargos, (mainland) Greece said that it would have a serious sulk if the Turkish Cypriots were allowed to play on a level playing field. Faced with this major threat to world peace, and possibly the end of civilization as we know it, instead of telling Greece to grow up and face reality, the spineless milksop politicians reneged on their promise and the embargos are still in place!
Having been “kicked in the teeth”, within living memory, it will take a lot for the Turkish Cypriots to endorse any “settlement” that could possibly disadvantage them!
In my opinion there are other reasons why the two nations on this island won’t unite, even under a federal government.
- Firstly, though not necessarily primarily, South Cyprus, known as the Republic of Cyprus, is an internationally recognised country in the European Union and regarded as the sole official government on the island.
Thus, as shown by their continued refusal to accept a time limitation on any “settlement” talks, they are in no hurry to reach an agreement as they don’t “need” one!
- Conversely, as long as it has the support of “Motherland” Turkey, the TRNC doesn’t actually “need” a settlement either!
Yes, the double handling of imports and exports is a hassle and may add to the costs of such products to the consumer.
It is also a hassle and expense for international travellers, either by sea or air, to have to land in Turkey before continuing their journey, but this has been the situation for decades.
This leads me very neatly to another reason why there probably is little enthusiasm on either side of the Green Line for a settlement in which there will certainly be “losers”.
The status quo has been in place for so long for the “working age” population that it has now become the accepted norm. In my opinion, and, I reiterate it is my opinion, the only people who now have a vested interest in a settlement are the Turkish and Greek Cypriots (or by now their descendants) who “lost” land when, in 1974, they were given 24 hours to decide which side of the Green Line they wanted to live!
I was very pleasantly surprised to hear that, at their first official meeting the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot presidents came up with something constructive!
President Nicos Anastasiades disclosed the maps of 28 (yes 28) minefields in North Cyprus. A cynic may argue that, as the United Nations have been the official peace keepers in Cyprus for over half a century, this information should have been disclosed to them decades ago and that the majority of people on the island won’t benefit from this disclosure.
President Mustafa Akıncı announced that, with immediate effect, people of all nationalities using the border crossings will no longer be required to have to complete a visa form, although their details will still be recorded on computer. People, citizens, residents and tourist on both sides of the Green line will benefit from this practice.
I am, therefore, willing to wait and see if there will be a successful conclusion to the “talks”!
The following ramble Alistair wrote about the maps of 28 minefields
However, it appears that the maps and exact locations are not known as they were laid BEFORE 1974! “Everybody” knows that the Turkish military intervention (to prevent the genocide of the Turkish Cypriots by the Greek Cypriots) or the totally unwarranted “invasion” by the Turks (in Greek Cypriot history books) happened in 1974.
Therefore, I would like to ask the Greek Cypriots if they are (and were) the cute, adorable peace loving cutie-pies that they claim to be, what were they doing laying mines before 1974 in a country that was then still under a single government, and presumably with a population that was entirely at peace?
This is a thought that has also (apparently) struck John Koenig, the US Ambassador to South Cyprus. In “Cyprus Today” newspaper he has been reported as saying that the Cyprus issue began 51 years ago (in other words 1964), and that it is not essentially a problem of invasion and occupation!
Also, a British academic and Cyprus commentator has twittered (sorry, tweeted) that “hard line” Greek Cypriots’ view that CyProb is simply about Turkey’s invasion ignores Turkish Cypriots suffering.
Not a basis for peace”!
Good heavens Caruthers, is the world finally (after half a century), ignoring Greek Cypriot propaganda and now accepting history as it really happened!
Regular readers will know that I have been very sceptical about the likelihood or even the possibility of a successful outcome to any “settlement” talks between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot powers.
However, at a recent meeting of the two Presidents that lasted 4½ HOURS, more progress seems to have been made than was ever made during the last 4½ DECADES!
I eagerly await to see if I was mistaken!