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Turkish Cypriot tax furore deepens

Fresh fruit and vegetables at the state warehouse that is no longer being delivered to Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north

The spat in the Turkish Cypriot administration in the breakaway north continued on Friday with ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu accusing Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci of making too many concessions to the Greek Cypriot side to the detriment of his community.

It was the latest instalment following Akinci’s criticism of Ertugruloglu after the latter decided to impose a tax on supplies from the south to Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north, a small number of people known as the enclaved.

The decision forced the UN, which has been carrying the supplies since an agreement was made in 1975, to only carry medicines last Wednesday, prompting accusations from the Greek Cypriots that the regime in the north was depriving children of their milk.

Commenting on the issue on Wednesday, Akinci accused Ertugruloglu of ignoring his plea not to enforce the decision, saying they were shooting themselves in the foot.

In response, Ertugruloglu held a lengthy news conference on Friday accusing Akinci of shooting Turkish Cypriots in the head with his actions.

He said no other Turkish Cypriot leader has created so many difficulties that were hard to repair and did not realise that his policy in favour of a solution left them to the mercy of Greek Cypriots.

Akinci, he said, was one of 78 Turkish Cypriots who registered to vote in the European Parliament elections in 2008 in which only Greek Cypriot candidates were elected.

He accused him of not believing in the ‘Turkish republic of northern Cyprus’ and of being a citizen of the Republic where he wanted to vote.

Ertugruloglu claimed that Akinci was lying to Turkish Cypriots that Greek Cypriots had accepted rotating presidency as part of the reunification talks.

“They see you as an ethnic minority … stop dreaming. Don’t deceive this people who are fed up of this uncertainty,” he said.

Insisting on a bizonal, bicommunal federation was an insult to Turkish Cypriots, Ertugruloglu said, and new methods and parameters should be found for a dialogue.

Akinci’s spokesman Baris Burcu described Ertugruloglu’s comments as unacceptable.

In a written statement, Burcu said these were the comments of an individual who occupied the ‘foreign ministry’; they did not correct his mistake, which was against the interests of the Turkish Cypriots. Akinci, Burcu added, considered it his duty and will continue to point out any wrong actions he saw.

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