There’s so much good news in a row that it’s giving me vertigo. First, the Turkish government and the PKK call for an end to their long, vicious war. Then Israel makes up with Turkey by apologizing for the Mavi Marmara incident. And now, oh the irony, the Turkish government has kindly offered the financially ruined Greek Cypriots the opportunity to join the Turkish Lira Zone, should they be booted out of the Euro Zone.
Congratulations on the PKK-government peace deal have piled up from politicians, TV personalities and even Fethullah Gulen. In a country where until recently singing in Kurdish could land you in jail, Kurdish minstrel Şivan Perwer just appeared on CNN Turk and played and sang in Kurdish for the whole country to hear. He said admiring things about Turkish musical artists Sezen Aksu and Tarkan. Even foreigners listen to them, he pointed out. “I am a child of this country; why do they not listen to me? It’s because I sing in Kurdish, isn’t it?” “Singing in Kurdish”, he said, “beautifies Turkey.” And now songs are being warbled in many languages. At the reading of PKK chief Ocalan’s message calling for peace, in solidarity a Laz musician launched into a song in Laz, a language spoken on the Black Sea coast, but not attached to any nationalist aspirations.
Now Turkey and Israel are making up. President Obama managed to give a final head butt to the Israelis in the direction the wind was already blowing. After several years of “Don’t call me, don’t call me; I don’t wanna talk anymore,“ Israel phoned and PM Erdogan answered. PM Netanyahu apologized and offered compensation for the loss of nine lives on the Mavi Marmara, an aid boat in a flotilla attempting to breach the blockade of Gaza 2010 that was boarded by Israeli commandos. The call was made at the last moment before Obama’s departure for Jordan. Obama was standing right beside Netanyahu in a trailer on the tarmac at the Tel Aviv airport. I can picture Obama handing Netanyahu the phone and saying… well, I can’t hear what he’s saying, but the body language in that trailer must have been obvious. The last thing the US needs in a region in turmoil is its two main allies in a snit.
Greek Cypriot banks invested heavily in Greece, which is in a major economic crisis, dragging Greek Cyprus down with it.
The European Union has given Nicosia until March 25 to raise 5.8 billion euros ($7.47 billion) to unlock loans worth 10 billion euros or face being cut off from the European Central Bank emergency funding in a move that would bankrupt the island.
The Greek Cypriot government had the temerity to try to raise that money by grabbing a percentage of what was laid by in the country’s bank accounts. They were especially interested in harvesting the big Russian money stored in its banks. But ordinary citizens were outraged that six to ten percent of their savings would disappear and the government was forced to cancel its raid on the nation’s piggybanks. But Turkey is coming to the rescue! If Greek Cypriot banks went bankrupt, Greek Cypriots might wish to open accounts in banks in the norther Turkish part of the island, which is financially stable. Turkey’s EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış has kindly stretched out a helping hand, saying that Turkey would support an eventual transition to the use of the Turkish Lira should Greek Cyprus be forced to exit the Eurozone.
Bağış couldn’t help getting a little dig in, though, pointing out that if the Greek Cypriots had approved the U.N. reunification blueprint or Annan Plan in 2004, it would have been spared its recent economic woes. Instead, they ditched the Turkish part of the island and joined the EU on their own. (The present leader of Greek Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, had supported unification at the time.)
Ah, the ironies, the payback, the cuffs to the back of the head, the warbling songs of peace. Happy spring. Newroz piroz be!