By Angelos Anastasiou
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci’s election victory on Sunday sparked a flurry of discussions on Twitter, with some in the Greek Cypriot political elite going against the grain of renewed hope for a settlement to the decades-long conflict.
As President Nicos Anastasiades and House President Yiannakis Omirou congratulated Akinci on his landslide win, prominent proponents of the “assertive” school of thought – meaning hardliners – Nicolas Papadopoulos, DIKO leader, and Yiorgos Lillikas, head of the Citizens’ Alliance, made a splash not only for their refusal to congratulate the winner, but also through posting openly undiplomatic responses on the issue.
Immediately after Akinci’s win was announced on Sunday night, Papadopoulos tweeted his take on the result, setting the stage for what was to follow.
“Those who claim that the Cyprus problem will be solved because the Turkish Cypriot negotiator has changed are simply exculpating Turkey,” Papadopoulos argued.
This was immediately countered by DISY member Michalis Sofocleous, who criticized Papadopoulos for lack of common courtesy.
“Not even for appearances,” said Sofocleous, director of the ‘Glafcos Clerides’ Institute.
“Congratulate the man on a human level first!”
Unfazed, DIKO’s leader answered the question with a question.
“Why exactly should I congratulate the occupation leader?” Papadopoulos asked.
“Has he returned our properties?”
This sparked a number of remarks and comments, ranging from the sarcastic to those bordering on abuse.
“It’s a shame [late Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf] Denktash doesn’t exist anymore to justify your existence,” user BK commented.
“It’s called common courtesy…” Aram Tavitian remarked.
“You only recognise Turkey as the facilitator and yet you demand return of properties from the Turkish Cypriot leader?” user Filalithis scoffed.
“It is your mind that is occupying, Mr Papadopoulos,” user Hulusi Kilim said.
“You should say: THE TURKISH CYPRIOT LEADER!”
Citizens’ Alliance leader Yiorgos Lillikas was even more confrontational, and drew his share of flak.
In response to a tweet by Omer Tilli, which claimed that “several fellow countrymen Greek Cypriots are with us at Inonu square – come and see what hope is”, Lillikas had only sarcasm to offer.
“I know what hope is… and I know what delusion is… I hope I am wrong,” he replied.
Predictably, it was not long before he was met with criticism.
“The brothers [Yiorgos Lillikas, Nicolas Papadopoulos and Yiannakis Omirou] started singing the familiar tune, that Turkey decides for everything!” user Active citizen wrote.
“Think for a minute first!”
Once again, Lillikas opted for sarcasm.
“I imagine you have never heard of Turkish occupation,” he replied.
“If someone ever brings it up, just ignore him.”
But unless Lillikas was going for sparking interest in his Twitter account – under the doctrine “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” – this quickly backfired.
“This is populism and sarcasm that does not honour you,” user Mattheos Mattheou responded.
“At last, get serious.”
And in yet another public relations blunder, Lillikas outed a “party leader” who supposedly “conveyed an assessment by a foreign embassy that Eroglu would secure a first-round election”.
“The Embassy can be wrong, after all,” he scorned.
He was quickly called out for this break in etiquette, as National Council sessions are conducted behind closed doors, with publisher Demetris Lottides attaching a ‘fail’ hashtag to Lillikas’ tweet.
“It does no honour to any political leader to wash up National Council discussions on social media,” Lottides tweeted.
This was followed by a rather comical back-and-forth between the two, with Lillikas arguing he had not identified the leader in question, and Lottides countering that his identity was completely irrelevant.
But things took a turn for the more serious when DISY deputy spokeswoman Stavriana Kofteros intervened in agreement with Lottides.
“I agree [with Lottides] regarding political culture, much as it may surprise you,” she told Lillikas.
“How is my friend the President of DISY?” Lillikas replied, seemingly implying he had been referring to DISY leader Averof Neophytou.
And when Kofteros rhetorically asked him why he didn’t address his question to him directly – Neophytou also maintains a Twitter account – Lillikas attempted a clumsy backtrack.
“I implied nothing more than the partisan and professional connection that interprets the reaction,” he said, presumably noting that Kofteros had stepped in to comment on Neophytou’s behalf.