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Turkish Cypriots in favour of coexistence of two separate states on Cyprus 2 février 2007

Posted by Acturca in South East Europe / Europe du Sud-Est, Turkey / Turquie.
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BBC Monitoring Europe – Political, February 1, 2007 Thursday

Source: Anatolia news agency, Ankara, in Turkish 1552 gmt 29 Jan 07

Lefkosa [Nicosia], 29 January: Recent researches and opinion polls conducted in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus showed that 65 per cent of Turkish Cypriots were in favour of a solution based on the coexistence of two separate states.

Sociologist Muharrem Faiz, owner of the Centre for Social and Economic Studies in Cyprus (KADEM) which is known for its researches and opinion polls, outlined the outcome of researches, studies, and opinion polls on different issues in an interview with Turkish Agency-Cyprus (TAK).

According to Faiz, there have been serious changes in the preferences of the Turkish Cypriot society about Cyprus in addition to changes in their economic and social tendencies. The results showed that public support for a solution based on the coexistence of two separate states went up to 65 per cent in 2006, the highest level recorded to date, while support for a possible federation declined to 20 per cent which, Faiz noted, represented the lowest figure. He said: « I have been conducting researches and opinion polls since 1989. I did not encounter similar figures in the past. »

According to the findings of the survey, the quality of public services did not improve despite positive trends observed in economic indicators and a rise in the level of welfare after the referendum held in 2004 because those improvements could not be integrated into public policies. Increased income was not distributed evenly among different regions and 10 to 15 per cent of the population is moving closer to the poverty line.

The outcome of the researches and polls conducted by KADEM in different areas highlighted that the Turkish Cypriot public could be described as a « society in transition » due to its eclectic structure combining modern and traditional aspects.

According to information provided by Faiz, indicators in various fields show that there has been a general improvement in the level of welfare and that purchasing power increased especially after 2001. But, it is not distributed evenly among regions and social groups.

For example, there are disparities between Lefkosa [Nicosia] where a large number of civil employees live and Guzelyurt [Morphou] and Iskele-Karpaz [Trikomo-Rizokarpaso] in terms of the rise in welfare level. Despite an increase in income and the rise in welfare level, income earned by 10 to 15 of the population who are not too small to be overlooked in terms of their number continues to fall especially in Guzelyurt and Iskele-Karpaz.

What are the indications of rising welfare ?

Faiz said that the rise in welfare and increase in income are reflected by a variety of factors ranging from sale of cars to satisfaction expressed by people about their lives and from an increase in the number of holidaymakers to the condition of houses. Some examples are as follows:

– According to 2006 figures, 30 per cent of the population believe that their income has increased while an equal percentage of people think that it has not changed.

– More than 70 per cent of the population say that they are happy.

– People in Western countries buy their houses after paying instalments throughout their lives whereas 75 per cent of households in the KKTC do not pay rent.

– Twenty-four per cent of the population spent their holiday abroad in the summer of 2006.

– More than 15 per cent of the population either exchanged their cars for a new one by paying the difference or purchased a new car in 2006.

– The percentage of people receiving medical services in private clinics and hospitals went up to 60 per cent.

More houses and apartment buildings were built than offices Faiz noted that the general increase in welfare was reflected by sale of houses and cars, more private tutoring, medical care provided by private institutions, satisfaction with life, but no lasting effect on the economy had been observed. For example, he noted, the number of offices did not increase even during the period when there was a drastic increase in the number of houses and apartment buildings.

Faiz supported his conclusion also with some figures. For instance, 24 houses and 35 apartment buildings were built in the central district of Lefkosa in 2005 as compared with only six offices. Fifty-eight houses, 71 apartment buildings, and seven offices were built in Gazimagusa [Famagusta]; 38 houses, 40 apartment buildings, and one office were built in Girne [Kyrenia]; seven houses and two offices were built in Guzelyurt; and 114 houses, three apartment buildings, and one office were built in Iskele.

« They do not affect public policies »

Faiz pointed out that increased welfare did not translate into improvements in the economy and accumulation of capital which he described it as a paradox. Muharrem Faiz briefly commented: « Increased welfare cannot be integrated with public policies. There are individual solutions. People buy generators but the electricity problem cannot be resolved. Had those funds been invested in power projects, it would have constituted a step towards the resolution of the problem. Another issue is health care where a great deal of money is spent without any achieving any improvement. The percentage of people in age bracket 40-50 who experience health problems is around three to five per cent as compared with 27 per cent among people over 65 which indicates that there are not sound healthcare policies formulated for the public.

« There is a similar situation in the field of education. There has been no improvement in education although the number of students in classrooms was reduced and the number of students taking private lessons increased. We are trying to resolve the problems through private lessons and schools and spend a lot of money for that purpose. But, we cannot achieve lasting results because they have no influence on the education policy. Those who cannot afford private lessons or private schools and actually all other people are adversely affected over the long term.

Unemployment rate is nine per cent which is close to those observed in the European countries. But, there is widespread hidden unemployment. There are engineers working as drivers or butchers or running businesses. »

Pointing out that contradicting conceptions about values and the coexistence of the right and the wrong were among the peculiarities of the  » eclectic » social system, Faiz went on to say: « We are demonstrating the characteristics of a society in transition. There are disagreements about the good and the bad or the right and the wrong. There are conflicting values coupled by a lack of norms. Society is both modern and conservative. Traditional values and modernity are intertwined. We dress, live, and spend like Westerners, but we do not have the values intrinsic to the West. »

Drawing attention to the existing paradoxes, Faiz noted: « Around 1,100 couples were married in 2005 as compared with 700 applications filed for divorce which was more than half of the number of couples married. But, we still find divorce unusual. »

Faiz cited the following examples for the paradoxical nature of the social system: « We oppose abortion although it is legal and we perform it secretly. We ascribe importance to individual autonomy, but we cannot accept the idea that a woman can live alone. »

Social demand for public policies

Pointing out that there must be stronger social demand for public policies, Faiz said: « You cannot resolve the education and healthcare problems by taking private lessons or going to private clinics. You cannot contribute to efforts aimed at greening the country by arranging your own garden. You must find public solutions through public policies which can only be achieved if there is social demand. There is not such social demand in this country. You could also not describe problems without convincing ordinary people to express their demands more loudly. Social demand is more important that political supply. No solution could be found by arguing that problems could be resolved by replacing the ruling party with another one. »

Pointing out that difference between de jure and de facto population also contributed to the current problems in the country, Faiz noted: « There is both racism and exaggeration of figures in the ongoing debates about population. They represent two opposite extremes. In fact, we should take account of facts and the actual situation. There is no other country with de jure population around 190,000 and de facto population close to 300,000. There are Arabs living in the United Kingdom and Algerians living in France and it is very normal. It also contributes to a fairer world. But, social balance will be disturbed if the population doubles. Hospitals and city busses will be overcrowded. Furthermore, the population would not feel it necessary to maintain and repair roads, schools, and hospitals because they would not feel that they belong the country where they live. »

The national identity of Turkish Cypriots

Commenting on Turkish Cypriots in terms of their national identity, Faiz noted that people tend to describe themselves as Cypriots against Turkey and as Turkish Cypriots against Greek Cypriots. He said that the opinion polls had revealed a general inclination to use the term Turkish Cypriots and added: « Turkish Cypriots feel that they are being ostracized. But, it never prompted them to resort to racism or aggressions. »

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