August 3, 2010
THOUSANDS of Turkish Cypriot civil servants and their supporters clashed with police in north Nicosia yet again yesterday as unions reiterated their opposition to what they say are Ankara’s plans to privatise the north’s public corporations.Carrying banners reading “Turkey go home!” and “No to privatisation!” protesters clashed repeatedly with police in riot gear under the 40 degree-plus heat.Several protesters and police were injured, and 24 were arrested, many of them union leaders.Backed by 35 trades unions and NGOs, yesterday’s “general strike and protest for communal survival” came just weeks after a similar protest against the selloff of ‘state’ airline Cyprus Turkish Airlines (CTA) to private Turkish carrier Atlas Jet. The protesters claim the administration, under pressure from Ankara, is now planning to sell off ‘state’ assets like KIBTEK, the electricity provider, the north’s telecommunications network and Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU). The unions are also angry at the ruling National Unity Party’s (UBP) implementation of an economic austerity package widely seen as having been drawn up by Ankara. The UBP was elected to govern in April last year on the understanding that it would not implement the package.Yesterday’s protest ended outside the Turkish Embassy in north Nicosia, where newly appointed Turkish ‘Ambassador’ to the north Kaya Turkmen was spending his first day at work. He arrived on the island yesterday after moving on from his previous posting in Lisbon.