Remarks by Yigit Bulut, an advisor to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to the effect that the Turkish-held northern part of Cyprus is a province of mainland Turkey, sparked outrage in the north on Wednesday, with political parties and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci’s spokesman criticising him harshly.
A former journalist, Bulut has made headlines in the past for his outrageous claims, including one in 2013 that foreign powers were plotting Erdogan’s murder through telekinesis.
In an interview to TRT Haber TV channel, Bulut had said that the international unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is an overseas province of Turkey.
“It can have Turkish signs and a governor,” he said.
“It currently has a president, a prime minister, a parliament, and Turkey ends up footing the bill.”
The EU is not paying “even a single euro”, he complained.
“Even the water is supplied by us from here, with pipes,” he said.
“We give the Greek Cypriots water, too. We give them electricity. Turkey should move along its own path, and Greece and the Greek Cypriots can come and make a deal with Turkey.”
In a statement, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci’s spokesman Baris Burcu said that the claim that “the TRNC is an overseas province of Turkey” hurts Turkish Cypriots and cannot be accepted.
“The goal is to form a bizonal federal Cyprus based on two constituent states, with equality, freedom, and security for Turkish Cypriots,” Burcu said.
“If this proves unfeasible for reasons beyond the Turkish Cypriots’ control, the TRNC will continue its path.”
THIS VIDEO WAS FILMED IN JANUARY 2017
Burcu described Bulut’s remarks as “inappropriate”, noting that, although not worthy of a response, they “cannot be ignored and overlooked, given [Bulut’s] post”.
“It is a sad state of affairs that the TRNC has not been able to stand on its own two feet, but to say that it is an overseas province of Turkey hurts the Turkish Cypriot people and is not acceptable,” he added.
“The relationship between Turkey and the TRNC is not that of an overseas province but a friendly, brotherly one between two countries.”
Republican Turkish party (CTP) leader Tufan Erhurman said Bulut has “no right” to talk in a way that “crosses the line”.
“We do not have to stand for these remarks,” he told a TV talk show.
“He must be warned sternly. A chief advisor to the President cannot talk like an ordinary citizen. No one should expect us to stay silent. We must protect our sensitivities.”
People’s Party leader Kudret Ozersay protested Bulut’s remarks on Facebook.
“As a citizen, I say this: we never gave you permission to set up a province here,” he wrote.
“If these are remarks by someone who looks down and mocks the Turkish Cypriots, he is doing nothing more than driving the two countries’ people apart.”
Cemal Ozyigit, leader of the Communal Democracy party (TDP), said Bulut has crossed the line, and, though he might be inconsequential personally, “one cannot overlook his position”.
“If Turkey’s official stance is in favour of a federal, bizonal, and bicommunal, settlement on the basis of political equality, is this talk of a ‘province’ Yigit Bulut’s personal view or a change in Turkey’s policy?”
“The TDP stands against Enosis [union with Greece] and Taksim [partition], and everyone should know this.”
United Cyprus party leader Izzet Izcan said that Bulut’s remarks suggest what those who attacked the north of Cyprus think of Turkish Cypriots.
“It is a lie that Turkey gives water and electricity to the Greek Cypriots,” he said.
“And lies can’t get you anywhere.”