Cyprus: Changing the Status Quo is a Virtue

Whoever needs proof that in politics “stability” and “stagnation” oftentimes go hand in hand should pay a visit to Cyprus, where the ethnic conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots seems to be frozen in time. By now it has been 42 years since Turkish troops invaded and de facto divided the island as a reaction to a coup d’état initiated by the Greek military junta, and 33 years since the proclamation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), a state-like entity not recognized by any country in the world but Turkey. It is here where one can vividly see the dangers of politically administrating the status quo not because it is impossible to change, but so easy to maintain.

DSC04956“Over the last decades both Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders made their people believe that maintaining the status quo was the best thing they could hope for, when in fact it led to a deterioration of both parts of the island”, explains Savvas Charalambous, a Greek Cypriot working on reconciliation measures for the nongovernmental “NGO Support Centre” in Nicosia. Thanks to its accession to the European Union in 2004 and a banking sector blown out of proportions, the Republic of Cyprus seemed to conceal its economic shortcomings which were finally revealed by the financial crisis in 2014. And contrary to 2004, when Turkish Cypriots were largely in favor of a reunification but Greek Cypriots rejected the “Annan Plan” – named after former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan -, it is now the mood among Turkish Cypriots towards reunification which has changed drastically over fears of instability and financial contagion from the South. Continue reading