Erdoğan: Don’t be surprised if Greek Cypriot economy collapses
20 July 2011, Wednesday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan added fuel to the fire in a series of blasts against Greek Cyprus and the European Union most recently by praising the Turkish Cypriot economy while saying the Greek Cypriot economy is “on the brink of collapse.” Erdoğan said on Wednesday at an opening ceremony in Gazimağusa in Turkish Cyprus that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) has achieved very successful results in terms of public finance at a time when many EU member states “dropped the class by failing exams [on economy].”
“The situation in Greece is obvious. Don’t be surprised if Greek Cyprus also becomes the same,” Erdoğan said, referring to an economic crisis Greece has struggled with. Erdoğan’s remarks came on the same day a top banker from Greek Cyprus warned that a deadly explosion that shut down a major power plant and spawned a week of rolling blackouts has wreaked such damage on the economy that it may need to be bailed out.
"I believe that the economy is now in a state of emergency, comparable to that of 1974," Central Bank of Cyprus Governor Athanasios Orphanides said in a July 18 letter to Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias. In 1974, Cyprus was split along ethnic lines after a coup by supporters of union with Greece was followed by a Turkish intervention. The country, which took up the euro in 2008, remains divided despite years of talks.
Greek Cyprus, which has not been dragged into Europe's debt crisis mire despite its close links with Greece, was badly hit by the July 11 explosion of seized Iranian munitions.
The munitions -- gunpowder inside dozens of containers confiscated from an Iran chartered ship in 2009 that the UN said had breached a ban on Iranian arms exports -- had been stacked in an open field at the naval base.
As well as killing 13, the blast prompted rolling blackouts around the country, shaken confidence in the government and spawned nightly protests demanding answers amid claims of official negligence.
Turkish Cyprus is supplying electricity from its own grid to Greek Cyprus.
Erdoğan said the KKTC was successful in standing on its feet despite all the economic embargoes and that Turkey is trying to do its best to make Turkish Cyprus economically self-sustaining.
The EU still imposes an economic embargo on Turkish Cyprus despite its 2004 pledge that it would end the isolation as long as Turkish Cyprus voted in favor of a UN plan for the reunification of the long-divided island. Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of the plan while Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly voted against it.
The KKTC itself had to enact austerity measures months ago due to what Turkey called “extravagant public spending.”
Erdoğan said he is pleased to see that the new economic program has already yielded its fruits. While praising Turkish Cypriot’s economy, Erdoğan said no one should be surprised if Greek Cyprus also experiences the same financial difficulties as Greece.
“I should also say that they might get angry when I talk like that,” Erdoğan added.