United Cities and Local Governments Middle East and West Asia Section (UCLG-MEWA) organized an online live-stream event as part of its Local Government Talks with Mahmut ÖZÇINAR, Mayor of Güzelyurt in the TRNC, President of the Union of Turkish Municipalities of Cyprus and UCLG-MEWA Executive Bureau and Council member, on June 26, 2020.
During the event, which is part of a series entitled “The Role of Municipalities in the Fight Against COVID-19 and Normalization Process,” Mayor Özçınar started his remarks by touching upon the effects of the outbreak in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Özçınar stated that timely measures jointly taken by central and local governments since the identification of the first case in the TRNC had kept the pandemic under control and brought the number of cases to zero in the TRNC.
“It is not possible to live only with the pandemic and not see its effects on the economy” said Özçınar, and he also underlined that it was necessary to put in place some economic measures and transform the pandemic into a controlled new structure.
Stating that the flights from Turkey to the island would resume starting from July 1, Özçınar underlined that arriving passengers had to undergo controls and PCR tests before entering the country.
During his speech, Özçınar also talked about the legal regulations issued regarding local governments and made the following comments: “What needs to be done is to ensure the same development trend throughout the country. In addition, we should expand investments to every part of the country. If we do not take these issues into consideration, this situation can lead to internal migration and we cannot ensure the sustainability of resources. To achieve sustainability in municipalities, we need to go through a reform process, addressing the problems of scale, institutionalization, income sources, and the geographical structure of our municipalities.”
Özçınar further stated that we should manage this process by taking necessary measures to keep tourism alive in the country and the region and to reflect it on the economy as well as to make sure that measures taken in the health sector guarantee this process.
Expressing that the local authorities should be more authorized in the formation of zoning laws of cities, Özçınar added that the urbanization should not expand without first solving the problem of infrastructure.