The Government of Yorkshire (or Delaware)October 22, 2007
Not unsurprisingly we sometimes find ourselves drawing comparisons between Cyprus and England. Often this happens when we stop to consider the way things are done here or how issues are dealt with. If we’ve gone as far as comparing the two then it’s probably not in a good way and the levels of frustration are likely to be high.
Stepping back, and looking at Cyprus in context, sometimes helps to understand why things are as they are sometimes.
OK, the basics: Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. The island area is just over 9,000 sq km (3,500 sq miles in old money) and has a population of about 800,000. Since the Turkish invasion in 1974 about 30% of the island, and most of the resident Turkish Cypriot population, are separated from the Greek Cypriot side by a demarcation line manned by UN troops. The capital, Nicosia, is the only remaining divided capital city in the world.
The island is located some 50 miles south of Turkey, and has Syria and Lebanon about 70 miles to the east and Egypt about 240 miles to the south. The mainland of Greece is some 800 miles away although many of the Greek islands are significantly closer.
To put Cyprus into context, it is comparable in size and population to the English county of North Yorkshire. In the US context it sits midway between Delaware and Connecticut in size. Delaware has a similar population, but Connecticut has four times the population of Cyprus. It is an island steeped in history, with a mediterranean climate, and in the main, a population very welcoming and tolerant of outsiders. It is a sovereign state (illegally occupied in part) and a European Union (EU) member which is joining the Euro currency zone in January 2008.
And the beef is? Too often it seems the political and government processes are ill thought-out or inefficient. Being kind they could perhaps be described as having a relaxed Mediterranean feel. And so it is that we sometimes read the local press recounting the latest piece of government decision making and think, based on our experience, that it looks crazy. We shake our heads in bemusement.
From a world perspective the country is hugely important in geopolical terms and as such is of interest to a whole number of global players yet the management team doesn’t necessarily have the level of experience that is commensurate with the challenges that brings. Should North Yorkshire be in a position to decide nuclear policy? Does Delaware have the experience, talent and knowledge to be able to decide what main battle tank to buy?
Maybe we shouldn’t be bemused, but just recognise the context and be happy the Cypriots are making a half way decent attempt at running this relatively new self-governing state. It may not always be world class Government, but there are too many other good things about life here to make us think of leaving … we’ll just need to remember that the independent State of North Yorkshire would, most likely, be an even bigger source of bafflement.