Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC): A Conflict Resolution Model

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Cyprus, the island of Aphrodite having deep blue sea, long and sandy beaches, the warm Mediterranean sun, picturesque villages is still far away from any kind of permeant conflict resolution.

CYPRUS Model

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is still politically separated nation and a physically divided country even after 51 years. Its permanent solution to end the divisions is still far from being achieved. Many sincere efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem and unify the two communities have undergone various levels of negotiation and missed opportunities during the half century but unfortunately succession of Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders have been unable to reach a solution acceptable to both sides.

Mustafa Akinci’s Visit to Ankara

The newly elected Turkish Cypriot president of Northern Cyprus visited Ankara riding momentum from a United Nations led effort to reunify the Mediterranean island. Both Turkish and Greek Cypriots now have leaders who favor reunification of the island, which has been split since 1974.

President Akinci and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed the need to solve the reunification issue together, adding that they anticipate a solution this year.

“We will always stand by the president and his negotiating team,” Mr. Erdogan said, adding that Ankara will work very closely with Mr. Akinci.

“If we act with the perspective of a common need, a common vision and a common benefit, we can reach a solution,” the president Akinci said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Most recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks with Greek Cypriot President Spokesperson Dimitris Christofias, focusing on the conflict dividing the island. After meeting with Dimitris Christofias, Merkel said it was up to Turkey to put more effort into resolving the situation. She praised the steps taken by the Cypriot government.

Graveyard for Regional & International Diplomacy

It has already been termed as graveyard of international as well as regional diplomacy due to many complicated socio-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic reasons. TRNC has also been remained unfinished agenda of European Union (EU). Its solution is still a far cry. But hopes have been again recharged after recently held Presidential Elections in the TRNC.

Infinite Voyage of Settlement & Stalemate

Both sides were engaged in series of intense negotiations during 2008-2012 reached a stalemate, and in May 2012 the talks were suspended. Severe banking and financial crisis in Greek Cypriot badly affected the pace of negotiation. Both sides wasted so many times to achieve a joint statement which was never tabled. In February 2014, the stalemate was broken when an agreement was reached on the language of the joint declaration clearing the way for the formal settlement talks to resume.

Now after the victory of Mustafa Akinci, leader of the small, center-left, Communal Democratic Party (TDA) in the presidential election to become the new leader of the Turkish Cypriots, expectations of meaningful dialogue through series of negotiation with Greek Cypriot are high. He immediately announced that the negotiations would resume as soon as possible in May, 2015 a declaration Anastasiades confirmed.

TRNC & Nature and Scope of Multilateral Relations

Due to still unsettled dispute, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) badly affected relations between Turkey and the European Union (EU), Turkey and Greece, and the EU and NATO and the last but not the least, Turkey and USA. Its unsuccessful conflict resolution also hurt the socio-economic growth patterns and weakened exploration of energy resources too.

UN-Led Negotiation

Now substantive talks brokered by the United Nations with the aim of reuniting Cyprus start on after a lengthy period of stalemate. The recent election of Mustafa Akinci as Turkish Cypriot leader is widely seen as a game changer, one that has significantly increased the chances of finding a solution.

TRNC different CMBs

He initiated different capacity building measures (CBMs) to restore peace talks with Greek Cypriot and abolished the entry visa for visitors to northern Cyprus which sounded nice among people of different origins. For the first time since Greek Cypriots rejected the UN’s 2004 reunification plan, the communities now have leaders with both the will and political acumen necessary to reach a solution.

Meeting of Both the Leaders

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Most recently newly elected President Mustafa Akinci met with Nicos Anastasiades, President of Greek Greek Cypriot and tried to end a conflict that has haunted many regional power brokers since 1974. Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci said that the ongoing Cyprus peace talks aimed to realize a framework during a UN meeting in September in New York where the guarantor countries would also join.

On June 17, Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders along with UN’s Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide gathered at the UN’s Good Office on the island for their third meeting. The next meeting on June 29 has also been tabled. Political tensions in the long-divided island have eased since talks resumed on May 15.

On May 28, both leaders agreed on a five-step plan to resolve the Cyprus issue following a meeting hosted by Eide.

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Unilateral Suspension of Talks

Peace talks were unilaterally suspended by the Greek Cypriot administration last October 2014.The Island was divided into a Turkish Cypriot government in the northern one third and a Greek Cypriot administration in the southern two-thirds after a 1974 military coup by Greece was followed by the intervention of Turkey as a guarantor state in Cyprus. Border gates between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Greek-administered southern Cyprus were opened on April 2003. Opening of Turkish ports to Greek Cypriot shipping would also have a beneficial effect on going negotiation.|

Now a new phase of Cyprus peace talks has been restarted. The measures for developing trust should continue that is the main principle. There is no need for new mistrustfulness, misunderstandings and conflicts.

New Phase

The President Mustafa Akinci’s spokesman highlighted that Turkish Cypriots along with Turkey had a solution-oriented vision to resolve the Cyprus issue and hoped that the Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, too would contribute by building a common vision.

Cyprus: Ongoing Conflict

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The Cyprus dispute is still an ongoing conflict between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. Since 1974, when the violence started, the green line separated the two areas on the island. Till today, over 100 negotiations have been presented to Greek and Turkish Cypriots in hopes of coming to an agreement, but every time one is proposed, one of the sides refuses the deal. The Cyprus dispute is still, to this day, unresolved.

Conflicts are inevitable. Cyprus as whole immediately needs a good conflict resolution model to lessen the socio-economic worries of the people living in divided land.

Different sources of Conflict Explanation

Conflicting goals or Priorities It can happen as a result of conflicting goals or priorities.
Lack of Shared Goals It can also happen when there is a lack of shared goals.
Personality Conflicts Personality conflicts are a common cause of conflict.
Scarce Resources It can happen when you are competing over scarce resources.
Styles People have different styles. Thinking style or communication style might conflict with somebody else’s thinking style or their communication style.
Values Sometimes you will find conflict in values.

The practice of “conflict resolution” as defined herein can be used to produce major positive changes in political, social, and economic systems.

Conflict resolution means terminating conflict with an outcome that, in the view of the parties involved, is a permanent solution to the problem. Conflict resolution, as opposed to conflict “management” or “settlement,” requires methods that get to the root of problems and, therefore, are highly analytical.

Conflict resolution has the capability of dealing with all forms of conflict at all social levels from the impersonal to the international. This capability extends to conflicts which are complex, intense, and violent.

Conflict origination Details

Natural Aggressiveness of Humans It reflects an attitude that attributes conflict to instinct, immorality, or deliberate anti-social behavior, thus justifying its repression
Competition for Scarce Resources It grossly underestimates both society’s productive capacity and the individual’s ability to share. Security, identity, recognition, and development are the main consideration/motivations for conflicts.
Values and Human Needs Sufficient coercion on the one side and the lack of bargaining power on the other can sometimes lead to a temporary suppression of such demands and to what is often labeled the settlement of a dispute, but not to its full resolution.
Political Reality It is not the policy of coercion that creates political reality; rather, it is the drive by individuals and identity groups for their independent development.

The practice of conflict resolution via an analytical, problem-solving procedure is deduced from the theory that conflict is a universal response to frustrated needs. The practice involves providing opportunities for the parties:

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Broad Conception

The above given broad conception of conflict and of conflict resolution through analytical problem solving implies that a wide range of current socio-economic-politico problems are resolvable. So, resolution of TRNC may be achieved by applying all these parameters of conflict resolution with the help of strong political will having spirits of accommodation and comprises from both sides for the ultimate socio-economic prosperity of their people at large.

Struggle of TRNC

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It has been struggle against communal domination since 1950. It has been struggle against political domination and cultural & ethnic discrimination of the Greek and Greek Cypriot since 1964. It has been denial of equal rights and just sharing in the system and governance. Ultimately, it has been firm resolve of Turkish Cypriot’s people, societies/communities to stand against all Greek state meekness. Siege and sanctions could not produce any dint in the inspirations of enclaved people of TRNC. Now they are more focused and resolved.

Multidimensional

Conflict of Cyprus has many dimensions. During 1950’s in the Cyprus, Turkish and Greek bilateral relations remained on the high tensions. Subsequently, two sides and their respective societies/communities took different positions in the Law of UN. First of all, two sides acquired the equivalent status on the UN, and later the Greek society obtained more advantage against the Turkish society, through political manipulations, Turkish society status was shifted as secondary.

Role of UN

Turkish Cypriot’s status took its last shape in the UN frame by the wrong written declaration of freedom of the NCRT and this phase still maintained the status of Turkish Cypriot in the UN’s Law. It was against all practices of international law and established techniques and strategies of modern “conflict resolution” discipline. Moreover, UNSC’s recommendations (541 & 550) were also not welcomed due to its basic flaws and functionalities.

Constitutional System

Declaring its independence from the British colonial rule in 1960, the Republic of Cyprus had a constitutional system based on the political equality of Turks and Greeks. The issue acquired a new dimension when Greek Cypriots expelled Turks from the political and governance system by violating their constitutional rights.

1964-74

During 1964-74, the Greek Cypriot administration forced Turks to migrate from the island through oppressive policies, and started preparations to unite Cyprus with Greece.

Coup d’état of Nikos Sampson

The coup d’état of Nikos Sampson aiming to unite Cyprus with Greece was the first major step towards the domination of Greece. Turkey made a military intervention in the island under her title of ‘guarantor state’ indicated in the constitution of Cyprus. Thus, Turkey secured the lives of Turkish Cypriots. In addition, the intervention of Turkey in Cyprus resulted in the association of the existence of Turkish community with a territory there. After 1974, Turkish Cypriots made up majority in a part of the island for the first time.

Indifferent Position of EU

The European Economic Community (EEC) now European Union (EU) took indifferent position on violation of the constitutional rights of Turkish Cypriots between1964-74. The Turkish Federated State of Cyprus was declared in 1975 which was not approved by Greek Cypriots as a co-partner, Turkish Cypriots declared the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1983 based on self-determination. TRNC has continued its existence so far by gaining more and more strength. Although the solution plan suggested by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2004 was approved by the Turkish Cypriots, it was rejected by Greek Cypriots. Annan Plan showed to the world that the party not desiring solution in Cyprus issue was the Greeks, but not the Turks.

Annan Plan 2004

Negotiations for a final solution to the Cyprus issue appeared to take a dramatic and positive step forward when on November 11, 2002, then U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented a draft of “The Basis for Agreement on a Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem,” commonly referred to as the Annan Plan. The plan called for, among many provisions, a “common state” government with a single international legal personality that would participate in foreign and European Union relations. Two politically equal component states would address much of the daily responsibilities of government in their respective communities. The Annan Plan was a comprehensive approach and of necessity addressed highly controversial issues for both sides. On April 24, 2004 the hope to resolve the issue of Cyprus was dashed as 76 percent of Greek Cypriot voters rejected the plan, while 65 percent of Turkish Cypriot voters accepted it.

Greek Cypriots Thinking

Ironically, Greek Cypriots do not consider Turkish Cypriots as equal partners to themselves, and do not want to share the state of Cyprus with the Turks. The wish of Greek Cypriots is for Turkish Cypriots to be contended with minority rights alone, and give up the idea of co-partnership which is still not acceptable to TRNC. Even newly elected President of TRNC clearly demonstrated the will to live with dignity having equal rights.

Turkish Cypriots

Turkish Cypriots want to enjoy the title of equal community granted by the 1960 constitution to them. They consider themselves politically equal to Greek Cypriots, and reject to be defined as minority. Turkish Cypriots gained a territory-based sovereignty, besides communal equality in the post-1974 era. Now, Turkish Cypriots propose a federative solution in which Northern Cyprus has a broad autonomy in addition to communal equality with Greek Cypriots. Thus, no peace proposal will be realistic in the post-1974 era, unless it takes into consideration the fact that Turkish Cypriots have founded their own state in the Northern Cyprus.

Unjust Verdict of the Court of Justice of the EU

The role of European Union in the resolution of Cyprus has been remained unfriendly and negative. Moreover, the Court of Justice of the EU preferred to punish Turkish Cypriots without any valid and reasonable ground by imposing an embargo on the Northern Cyprus origin products in 1994. In 2004, Southern Cyprus was accepted as a member to the EU though it rejected the Annan Plan. In this way, EU fully supported the theses of the Greek Cypriots rejecting to consider Turkish Cypriots as an equal community.

UN & EU Two Main Players

The United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) are the two important third parties that have become influential in the actuality of Cyprus conflict.

United Nations (UN) European Union (EU)

It has been involved in the conflict resolution process since the 1950s. EU has participated to the process since the 1990s.
It had become to the full extent a national policy forum for the Greek Cypriot administration, particularly since 1974. Its role in the Cyprus dispute became significantly more prominent after the accession negotiations opened in 1998 with the Republic of Cyprus.
Kofi Annan Plan constituted a relatively balanced approach to the Cyprus dispute More proactive role of EU towards the resolution of Cyprus has not yet been materialized.

Launch four-party Talks

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It is not possible to achieve a solution unless Southern Cyprus fulfills the minimum demands of Northern Cyprus. The fact that Southern Cyprus and Greece have denied so far the status quo emerging in Cyprus after 1974 has not changed the existing situation. The best way to solve problem is to launch a four-party talk sided by Turkey, Greece, Southern Cyprus, and Northern Cyprus based on mutual understanding and common interests. Otherwise, Northern Cyprus may launch an international campaign to be recognized as an independent state, and follow the way adopted by Kosovo in this matter.

From the 1959-60 settlements to the Annan plan in 2003-04 the principle upon which all arrangements had been tried and failed was, in essence, that of co-federalism/consociationalism. Cyprus cannot be a nation-state under Greek Cypriot majority rule, or two nation-states in a loose co-federation under the surveillance of NATO forces.

Previously, the joint declaration between the Cypriot President, Nikos Anastasiadis, and the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Dervis Eroglu, was officially re-opened the cycle of negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus issue.

The declaration was based on the lines of the Annan plan of 2003-04, which the Turkish Cypriots approved and the Greek Cypriots turned down, the result of two separate referenda. It was co-federal/consociation in form and substance, creating multi-layered bureaucracies on the island composed of two states and superintended by NATO powers, especially Turkey, Britain and Greece.

Cyprus/TRNC and Different Models of Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution Models Details

William Zartman Transformation of conflict needs a situation which is “a mutually hurting stalemate” where all the parties are equally hurt from the existing status quo. Inequality hurts both the parties and supports existing status quo.
Cyprus/TRNC It does not yet have a situation of mutually hurting stalemate because one of the parties in Cyprus has all the political and economical advantages over the other, depriving the other party from those economic and political advantages.

Professor Joseph Montville It is the concept of ripeness for resolution. It suggests that unless there is some kind of parity in the motivation and structural equality in the relationship, unless, there is some alignment in the dynamics of the peoples the party that feels deprived does not have the confidence to engage in a new relationship with the other party. It would not be ready to expose itself to a new exercise, to a new partnership game with the other party.
Cyprus/TRNC It does not exist in Cyprus either. It does need for some kind of balance in motivational, political and economic terms. Outside Cyprus, yes, the forces are more conducive for change in the Island. The EU, UN and Turkey want resolution.

Probable Conflict Resolution Options

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It is hoped that the preferred option of the TRNC is the third one, in spite of the difficulties of the Island, and in spite of the fact that they have been kept hostage for 41 years. The reason is clear; cooperation is better than confrontation.

TRNC and Confederal Model

It is hoped that a confederal model would address the reality that there are two sovereign states on the Island. It satisfies the aspirations of the two sides to be sovereign in themselves. At the same time, it provides for the mechanisms to link the two peoples and states of the Island, on agreed powers and functions. It provides for, on issues that they will agree, a joint representation, including the EU and of course the UN, and other issues they may take up. At the same time it will provide the opportunity for the states, the constituent states, if they wish, to establish their own ties with other countries and other institutions around the world. The win-win situation would be, the achieving a settlement first and then moving towards a confederal or a joint membership of the EU.

Confederation and confederal arrangements are being revived as the postmodern form of federalism that seems to be particularly useful in connecting politically sovereign states that must accommodate themselves to the realities of new times. These include the growing inter dependence among states deemed politically sovereign, the desire/or linkage among states and peoples that will not require them to merge into new nations but enable them to preserve their separate national identities and existence, and recognition of the realities of ethnic distinctiveness and, at times, conflict”.

Mutual Benefits

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It can trade with Turkey, one of the largest trading partners of the region. Tourism, banking, shipping are some of the potential activities that Greek Cypriots could benefit from. Socio-economic embargos would be lifted. It would come out of long political isolation. Its agriculture, tourism and education sectors would come into main stream of active commercial diplomacy.

Moving Forward

Different Issues Details
Structural issue It refers to political structure. It requires the equal political playing field in Cyprus: the status of the two parties. It means equality in Cyprus. Thus, the political playing field needs to be leveled and in preparing the ground, this is the major issue that needs to be addressed.
Behavioral Issue Behavioral dimension, the psychological issues are involved in Cyprus’s conflict resolution. Spirits of mistrust and deep crisis of confidence need to be resolved as soon as possible.
End of Human Embargos Embargoes on the Turkish Cypriot people in all its shapes, sizes and motivations must be lifted (playing football with any international team, including travel, including tourism, communication etc.).

Government of Pakistan

The government of Pakistan has been true supporter and friend of TRNC. Pakistan was among the first countries that showed willingness to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkish Cypriot people have great love and affection for Pakistani people, which is growing with the each passing day.

TRNC and Pakistan enjoy deep rooted brotherly bilateral relations since the commencement of the relations. Pakistan shares many historical and religious commonalities with TRNC. TRNC is a historical and enriched in cultural connections and resource rich country located with a significant potential in the field of economy and human resource.

Pakistan has always stood with TRNC government and its people in every international forum. Pakistan wants a quick and just solution of TRNC.

Concluding Remarks

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“…not simply a conflict of substantive issues, such as territory, refugees, etc… But mostly a conflict of mistrust, fear and suspicion, rooted in historical hostilities.”

Cyprus and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has been tangled between the hope of settlement and disarray of stalemate for so many years. It has been swinging between the notions of trust and distrust, confidence and conflict, cooperation and conspiracy and the last but not the least coordination and confrontation for more than 50 years. Two different national discourses/narratives towards conflict resolution produced destruction for the dreams of greater socio-economic prosperity, political engagement and international exposure within both the parts of Cyprus.

It has also been playground of regional proxies. It has been one of the ideal places of all kinds of socio-economic experiments/exploitations by all the power brokers. It has been chess of power politics/posturing and optics.

In broad terms the conflict in Cyprus can be resolved in one of two ways i.e. recognition of the two parties as two separate states or guaranteeing the integrity and sovereignty of each party while providing for a mechanism that links them.

Conflict resolution in Cyprus is not nation-building but the connecting of two sovereign states, guaranteeing the integrity and sovereignty of each party, as well as the needs for linking the two states of Cyprus and of eventual EU membership, can be satisfied in the days to come.

TRNC wants a settlement that respects democratic principles, human rights, fundamental freedoms, respecting different cultures and ethnicities, respecting both sides and that Cyprus is aligned with the European Union in the future. The settlement may be based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality. The TRNC is doing whatever necessary to work on a new partnership based on a one-state or two-state solution with equal political rights.

There has to be a joint declaration to give some life, some understanding and some meaning to recently held meetings at the highest levels. It would build up the needed trust and confidence between the two parties. Intergovernmental contacts’ between the two parties may lead towards a concrete result/resolution.

TRNC has proposed to the Greek side that they should sit on the negotiating table without the joint statement in order to seek a solution but their proposal have not been entertained by the Greek side. Annan Plan was rejected by the Greek Cypriot side by saying no to referendum held in 2004 under the aegis of the United Nations.

Proactive action is necessary to prepare for the future for a sustainable settlement of the Cyprus issue. There is need to build institutions, which would facilitate the two peoples and two states of the Island, to work together. Cyprus has common environmental, water and health problems on the Island. It is essential that the two states of the Island through their departments come together and discuss these issues. They can initially use the facilitation of a third party to start the process.

Both parties need to start removing the obstacles on each other, including trade between ourselves and sports and other things, not only on the Island but off the island as well. We need to deal with the issue of embargoes urgently. We need to build up the needed trust and confidence. We need to supplement intergovernmental contacts with the contacts of NGO’s.

Cyprus is in the midst of a paradigm shift where statehood is no more an end but rather the means to a new world of interstate integration of a confederal character. The EU is emerging as the worlds largest and most articulate confederation covering a large region. Both parties in Cyprus vision to become members of the EU.

Both parties in Cyprus attach primary importance to their separate national identities, existence and respective democratic states which must be respected. Structural equality and symmetry are the essential ingredients in translating political equality into practical provisions for both the parties.

The island of Cyprus is the common home of both the Turkish Cypriot people and the Greek Cypriot people. Neither of these two peoples would accept to be dominated or governed by the other. Yet, the two peoples are destined to share the island, to co-exist and to work together for a better future, stability and quality of life.

There is minimal trust and cooperation between the two parties in Cyprus which need to be resorted. The conflict in Cyprus threatens the strategic, security and economic interests of both parties in the island, of their respective motherlands Turkey and Greece, of the EU, and of transatlantic interest in general. The re-establishment of the balance of power on the island through a confederal arrangement based on the sovereign equality and statehood of the two parties will provide for island-wide and regional security and stability.

Although the primary loyalty of the two peoples of the island is to their respective state, there is a growing awareness amongst the populace of both states that there is need to coexist on the island as good neighbours.

The Turkish Cypriot people do not want to engage in another constitutional exercise with their former partner and risk yet another forced expulsion and isolation. Cyprus is going through difficult times where the law will have to follow reality and find ways to accommodate and justify it. The reality of two sovereign states in Cyprus can be accommodated and justified through the establishment of a Cyprus confederation. This could facilitate island-wide linking as well as linking with the EU.

Because both parties in Cyprus define themselves in terms of wider identities and allegiances, it is necessary that the respective motherlands of the two parties also play equally positive and constructive roles in creating the conditions which would facilitate the establishment of a confederal arrangement between them. Ongoing sever economic crisis in Greece and massive political uncertainty after the recently held parliament elections in Turkey has already opened a window of opportunity for both the parties to take their own decisions independently and move forward from current status que to achieve conflict resolution. It would be fate-changer in the days to come.

The Mediterranean Island of Cyprus has suffered a long history of foreign domination, violence and civil strife. Now it is the high time to resolve this issue according to the ground realities beyond the realms of power-politics and wishes of imperialistic forces. The will of people of TRNC must be supreme.

Equal political rights, systematic representation, constitutional guarantees, greater socio-economic integration, rigorous commercial diplomacy, strong political will and honesty on the part of all the facilitating agencies and power brokers must act wisely to achieve the desired conflict resolution and Cyprus would be again sand of syndicated happiness, togetherness. Its blue waters would be again “Bluetooth” of greater connectivity and understanding of co-existence in the days to come. Its warm Mediterranean sun would be again sonorous for greater societal cohesion, political maturity, and economic prosperity. Its picturesque villages would be again hubs of production, survival and excel.

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