NICOSIA – As politicians on both sides argue over how – or if – to reunite the island divided by two illegal Turkish invasions in 1974 that saw the northern third occupied since then, Greek Cypriots visiting the other side are spending so much over there that it helps the economy over there.
This is vital as the Turkish Cypriot side, isolated in the world and not accepted by countries other than Turkey, is going through one of its worst economic crises in decades and is also largely dependent on Turkey.
For some businesses such as restaurants, the income of Greek Cypriots has meant they can cling on in an otherwise desperate situation, the Cyprus Mail said in a report on the occupied party’s dilemma.
“Last year, it was the Greek Cypriots who allowed the food sector to survive,” said Turkish Cypriot Restaurant Association President Salih Kayım. “Turkish Cypriots can no longer afford to go to restaurants,” he told the Cyprus Mail.
With the pound falling 44% in 2021 and another 22% in 2022, everyday items are becoming unaffordable during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasingly eccentric rule as he exerts economic control.
It has seen prices rise out of sight for most people and households, but curiously he still has huge support for his autocratic rule as he seeks re-election in 2023. Inflation has hit 120 .32%.
Although the official currency in the north is the Turkish lira and people’s salaries are also paid in lira, many expenses like rent and school fees are in foreign currency, which has reduced the quality of life, notes The report.
But the fall in the lira has increased purchasing power on the occupied side of Greek Cypriots who use the mighty euro, with the legitimate government being a member of the European Union which Turkey has been trying to join since 2005.
This, according to the paper, saw Greek Cypriots queuing in their cars at crossing points to refuel and buy everything from medicine and clothes to hairdressers and medical services, including dentists.
Turkish Republican Party CTP leader Tufan Erhürman said that, ironically, “we have come to a point where Turkish Cypriots are watching while (Greek Cypriots) are shopping”, and Turks can only watch.
For the first time since the crossings opened in 2003, there are now more Greek Cypriot crossings than Turkish Cypriot crossings, some 1,833,000 northwards in the first eight months of 2022.
INVISIBLE VISIBLE BENEFITS
During the same period, Greek Cypriots spent nearly 30 million euros ($29.16 million) with their credit cards alone, with no figures available in cash, which could significantly increase the total as there is no is not counted.
The Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Industry, the Association of Turkish Cypriot Travel Agencies, the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Tradesmen and Craftsmen, the Association of Turkish Cypriot Restaurant Owners and the Association of Cypriot Hoteliers Turks are calling on the Turkish-Cypriot administration to ease the crossings and open more of them.
“The only reason there is life in the market is because of the money flowing from the south,” Chairman Ali Ardıç of the Board of the Chamber of Traders and Traders told the newspaper. artisans.
“If this stopped, companies would go bankrupt. We need to understand that… the faster the crossings the better for us… This should be a priority as many sectors are only kept alive because of the crossings,” he said.
Economist Merkan Hamit said the trade in which Turkish Cypriots only sell certain goods to Greek Cypriots has alone generated 8 million euros ($7.78 million) so far in 2022.
Boosted by the devaluation of the Turkish lira, sales through Green Line commerce are expected to double from last year and reach 12 million euros by the end of the year, the report notes.
This would be the highest in 18 years, according to İzzet Adiloğlu, Deputy Secretary General of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, with the economy on the occupied side also benefiting from Turkish Cypriots working on the Greek Cypriot side, people from both sides working together.
Although their official number is around 3,000, the actual number is said to be around 6,000, which means a minimum of 50 million euros ($48.6 million) more in contributions to the Turkish Cypriot side. , Hamit said.
“It’s the invisible service exports between the north and the south,” he said, estimating that sales to Greek Cypriots and money earned by Turkish Cypriots on the Greek Cypriot side bring in at least 200 million. euros ($194.42 million).
This accounts for up to 12% of the Turkish Cypriot side’s annual gross domestic product (GDP), at least half of which comes from gasoline sales alone as Greek Cypriots queue to fill up.
“All this economic contribution exists despite the fact that we make Greek Cypriots wait at the crossing points for hours, despite the daily insults of the Turkish Cypriot authorities against the Greek Cypriots, despite the negative attitude of the Greek Cypriot authorities towards crossing points, and green line trade,” Hamit said.