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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 30 July 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 30 JULY 2016 23 NEWS Cyprus: fears rise over Erdogan’s next move Former Victorian minister warns of Turkish opportunism in wake of failed coup Supporters of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan rally after the failed 15 July coup and hold a banner depicting him as the ‘star of democracy’. PHOTO: AAP VIA EPA/CEM TURKEL MIKE SWEET Speaking from Nicosia this week, exstate Labor minister Theo Theophanous told Neos Kosmos that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown could soon be reaching Cyprus' shores. Mr Theophanous, who visited the occupied north of the island as a guest, said the consequences of Erdogan's response to the failed 15 July coup - for Cyprus and the re-unification process - could be catastrophic, with the Turkish president bent on a savage purge of his opponents, and the intention to sure up his control in the region. "How long is it going to be before Erdogan looks to squash all examples of liberal resistance, not just in Turkey, but in its sphere of influence," said Theophanous. "How long will it be before he looks at northern Cyprus and follows Vladimir Putin's lead, in the way Putin annexed Crimea? Theophanous believes the stalled unification talks between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot authorities offer Erdogan the chance to claim northern Cyprus in what the Turkish president would claim was a 'democratic' mandate. "Drawing on Putin's actions in Crimea, Erdogan may be tempted to engineer a referendum in northern Cyprus, to test whether its inhabit- ants want to join Turkey, so resolving their isolation," says Theophanous. "He would try and justify it by saying the talks have dragged on too long, that the Greek Cypriot side is intransigent, and that Turkish Cypriots are isolated from, and unrecognised by, the international community. "Of course he would win any such a referendum. Half the original Turkish Cypriot population have emigrated - replaced largely by Anatolian Turks, and Erdogan draws huge support from that community." The only way forward is for Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to find a way reach a settlement to unify Cyprus as soon as possible, says Theophanous. "To not do so offers Erdogan an opportunity to create mayhem, that would threaten not only Cyprus' future but the stability of the region." Adding fuel to Theophanous' argument, Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim said last week that while Turkey wanted the UN-brokered reunification talks to continue, the current round of negotiations was the last chance for Greek Cypriots to reach a deal. "The Turkish Cypriot side has, with full sincerity, acted constructively," Yildirim told reporters. "This is the last chance for the Greek Cypriot side, which has always acted as the 'game spoiler'. We recommend they use this chance wisely," Yildi- rim added. Turkey is the only country to recognise the Turkish Cypriot administration in northern Cyprus, with the international community regarding the Republic of Cyprus as the only legitimate authority for the island that has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. Meanwhile in his first public speech since the failed uprising, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said Turkish Cypriots had serious concerns about the coup attempt and its aftermath. Mr Akinci said the failure of the coup was a relief but that Turkey needed continue to progress "as a modern, democratic, secular, and social state of law". Greece eases up on capital controls The nation’s central bank motivated to win back millions in deposits This time last year Greek banks were in chaos. While the government took part in negotiations with its international creditors, capital controls were imposed amid fears the country would ditch the Euro currency. This resulted in strict limits placed on how much money depositors could withdraw from their accounts each week. Thirteen months on however, and the Greek central bank is easing its grip on those controls in a bid to encourage nationals to return some of the money withdrawn. While some of that money was spent on paying taxes and covering household expenses, billions of dollars have been moved to accounts abroad, safe deposit boxes, and even under mattresses. By lifting certain restrictions on cash withdrawals, Alternate Minister of Finance George Chouliarakis says he expects it will attract between three to four billion euros in fresh deposits, reports the Financial Times. The move will be a critical test of the nation's confidence in SYRIZA, with the reaction expected to demonstrate how safe Greeks feel about having their money in the country's banks. The decision comes after the government successfully completed the first review of its €86 billion bailout loan. With certain controls expected to be abolished as soon as Monday, depositors will be permitted to withdraw €840 every two weeks rather than €420 every week. One banker shared Chouliarakis' sentiment stating, "we expect a fair amount of cash to emerge now from where it was stashed at the height of the crisis," a fair expectation given that some €45 billion was withdrawn from the banking system in the first half of 2015 alone. They also added that it would give a much-needed boost to the system's liquidity. Despite the changes, other restrictions will remain in place on cash transactions for some time with the aim to encourage use of plastic cards in everyday transactions to reduce tax evasion. "The overriding priority is to ensure that POS card machines are in use everywhere even for small transactions, not just supermarkets and food outlets but newspaper kiosks too," a bank official said.
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