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    HomeNewsBreaking NewsPlease don't politicise the vaccine, Mr President

    Please don’t politicise the vaccine, Mr President

    Please don't politicise the vaccine, Mr President 1


    Despite a few notable hiccups along the way, Northern Cyprus has managed to deal quite well with the coronavirus pandemic. At time of writing, only nine people have died of the virus, which is a rate of less than one a month since the first confirmed case. I would not hesitate to call this a success story, thus far. Furthermore, with vaccines being approved and now injected across the world, the end of this difficult period may well be in sight.

    Of course, Northern Cyprus does not have the infrastructure available to produce its own vaccine, and thus vaccines will be imported, and this is where the current problem lies. President Ersin Tatar has said that he will not accept vaccines that have come through the Republic of Cyprus, and that they should instead come directly from the European Union.

    Now, I understand from Mr Tatar’s point of view the fear of a potential backlash that he and Northern Cyprus would receive from the Greek Cypriots and the wider international community should he allow for vaccines to be imported through the south. I can also visualise the inevitable press releases and headlines along the lines of “they’re only independent when it suits them and until they need something from the south”. In short, I get it. However, there are two reasons why I don’t believe that his is the correct approach to this situation, and here is why.

    Finishing this pandemic as quickly as possible must be the top priority

    First of all, I don’t believe that the reaction to Northern Cyprus accepting vaccines from the south would be anywhere near brutal enough to move the needle in political terms. Aside from a few press releases and headlines, people would take minimal notice of the vaccine’s origins, and in all likelihood simply be grateful to be vaccinated. Granted, I am not personally in favour of a two-state solution, and therefore am unmoved by accusations that the north cannot go it alone, but I do not believe in any case that importing vaccines addressed to the Republic of Cyprus through the south would be particularly harmful to that cause.

    In fact, Mr Tatar’s statement about the vaccines has brought more attention to their origins than would have been given had he said nothing at all. The Turkish Cypriot left have taken the opportunity to make political hay over this, with many announcing that they will now go south to the vaccine. I’m not sure how possible that will be, given the fact that the crossing points are currently closed, but in my opinion this has been a needless waste of (an albeit small amount of) political capital nonetheless.

    My second and most important point, is that the vaccine should not be politicised in any case. As well as Northern Cyprus has dealt with the pandemic, it is still ongoing, and the disease is still as dangerous and potentially lethal to our elderly as it has ever been. Finishing it, and finishing it as quickly as possible, must be the top priority. No political point that one can score is worth extending this pandemic. It has gone on more than long enough, and I am sure that the vast majority of people do not care where the vaccines come from so long as they come and are administered as soon as possible.

    It is upon Ersin Tatar, therefore, to do the right thing – to lower his political demands just this once in order to allow for vaccinations to begin at the earliest possible moment. I am sure supporters of a two-state solution would forgive him, and the rest of us would thank him for it.

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