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Turkish Cypriots protest wage cuts

 Turkish Cypriot protesters wave party flags as they shout slogans during a mass protest against an economic austerity package in the Turkish occupied...
 Turkish Cypriot protesters shout slogans during a mass protest  against an economic austerity package in the Turkish occupied area north of divided N...

Cyprus Protest

Turkish Cypriot protesters wave party flags as they shout slogans during a mass protest against an economic austerity package in the Turkish occupied...

Cyprus Protest

Turkish Cypriot protesters shout slogans during a mass protest against an economic austerity package in the Turkish occupied area north of divided N...

Thousands of Turkish Cypriots in the north of divided Cyprus walked off their jobs on Friday and peacefully protested what they said are unfair economic policies that are stifling them.
Protesters from around 40 organizations banged drums and blew vuvuzelas at a rally in north Nicosia to voice their disapproval at polices they say are driving young people off the island to look for jobs.
"The economy is bad and everyone is getting angry," 18 year-old student Tugrul Atakan said. "It's getting worse and worse."
Protesters also blamed Turkish Cypriot authorities for bowing to pressure from Turkey to enact such measures as steep entry level wage cuts for government jobs.
"Ankara prepared these measures and imposed them," said Murat Kanatli, secretary general of the leftist New Cyprus Party. "They're pushing us out of the country."
Cyprus was split into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece.
Although the island joined the European Union in 2004, only the wealthier south enjoys membership benefits.
Turkey, which only recognizes the north, maintains 35,000 troops there and props up the Turkish Cypriot economy with tens of millions of Turkish lira in annual aid.
The Turkish Cypriot government of the right wing National Unity Party employs about one in eight people in the north said Kanatli, and any pay cuts would have a knock-on effect on the entire economy.
But more worrisome for Turkish Cypriots is the sense that they are losing control of their own destiny, as policy formulated in Ankara is implemented in the north by an acquiescent government, said Sener Elcil, general secretary of the Cyprus Turkish Teachers' Trade Union KTOS.
"People are fed up. Turkish Cypriots want to govern themselves," said Elcil, one of the protest's organizers. "We sent a clear message to Turkey not to interfere."
Elcil said Turkish Cypriots are losing their jobs as state-owned companies are being sold off to Turkish businessmen.
Long-running negotiations to reunify the island that could determine the outcome of Turkey's troubled bid to join the EU have made little concrete progress.
But United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed optimism about the talks after a meeting in Geneva this week with Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.


Updated : 2021-07-31 12:02 GMT+08:00