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Runaway Corruption on Turkish Side of Cyprus, Voters Bribed

Αssociated Press

FILE- Protesters on a building hold a banner for peace during a protest against the Turkish President visiting the Turkish occupied part of the island at the north and the 47th anniversary against the Turkish invasion in the island, in Dherynia, Cyprus, Monday, July 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA -- A report by two academics said that voters on the Turkish-Cypriot occupied northern third of Cyprus were commonly bribed or offered favors and that corruption is widespread there.

The report Omer Gokcekus of Seton Hall University in New Jersey and  Sertac Sonan from Cyprus International University noted that Transparency International, which ranks corruption around the world, didn't include the occupied territory in its listings.

“Therefore, we did not have any comprehensive data with regard to the corruption perception in the northern part of Cyprus for a long period,” they added but nonetheless declared that corruption is serious there.

A survey found that 88 percent of business people who responded said there is bribery and corruption going on commonly and 58 percent said it is a “very serious problem,” but no resolutions have been offered.

Respondents said the three most common transactions where ‘bribery or undocumented extra payment’ takes place are in allocating and leasing public land, “incentives, and public contracts and licenses, The Cyprus Mail said.

Some 12 percent of business people said they had been required to bribe someone and 57 percent believe the politicians they voted into power are stealing from the state that's isolated in the world.

“The belief among the businesspeople that the judiciary is independent enough to try political power holders for abuses is not strong either” the report said.

Two members of a self-declared parliament had their immunity lifted to face corruption charges but the phenomenon is so widespread there that only 8 percent of people think they will be punished enough.

The report found that “offering voters money or a special favour in elections was very common” to tilt elections.

Earlier this year, the former leader of the Turkish-Cypriot occupied side, Mustafa Akinci, said Turkish government agents tried to squeeze him not to run for re-election in October 2020 before he lost a race to ultra-nationalist Ersin Tatar.

A Turkish news report also claimed that Turkey paid people to vote for Tatar as Erdogan stepped up his meddling in Turkish-Cypriot affairs and blistered a Turkish-Cypriot court decision restricting Koran courses, demanding it be overturned now.