Turkish vice president Fuat Oktay who was in the north on Saturday did not meet with Mustafa Akinci, the Turkish Cypriot leader’s spokesman said on Monday.
Akinci’s spokesman Baris Burcu, following media reports expressing bewilderment as to why Oktay had broken tradition and ‘protocol’ by not meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader, said in an announcement Akinci had found the need to clarify his position regarding the Turkish vice president’s visit. Oktay met with only with ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar.
According to Burcu, Akinci had maintained a relationship based on mutual respect with Turkey since the first day he assumed ‘office’. “Within this framework, all state, government officials as well as members of the opposition from Turkey are always welcome to meet with the president,” he said.
Burcu added that Oktay had not requested to meet Akinci during his latest visit but had asked for a meeting to be scheduled when he returned later this month for the July 20 “celebrations” to mark the 1974 Turkish invasion.
Burcu also expressed Akinci’s discontent for what he said was the latest attempt to discredit him. The incident concerns his absence from the 1st Economic Conference organised by the Turkish-‘TRNC’ Chamber of Commerce Forum last Saturday.
Despite the fact that Akinci was invited to the event by the head of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (KTTO), he turned down the invitation after being informed that he would be excluded from the list of dignitaries speaking at the event.
“When the matter was questioned by his private secretary, he was informed that the decision had been taken by the chamber’s executive board. As it is known, the established practice is that the president will decide whether or not he will speak when invited to such events. This practice has been bluntly violated,” Burcu said.
Burcu asked whether Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would receive the same treatment when the second economy conference Turkey takes place there.
He pointed out that the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce was a well-established and reputable institution and that such disrespectful actions, deliberate or accidental, “did not harm the president”, if that had been the intent.
“The KTTO’s latest action, is the newest addition to a series of efforts to discredit the president. Let it not be forgotten that the president who represents the Turkish Cypriot people at the highest level does not lose respect in the face of such actions. To the contrary it is those who display or encourage such actions which lose respect and esteem in the eyes of the public,” Burcu said.
The announcement follows Akinci’s statements last month that he was the one in charge of taking decisions on issues such as the closed-off town of Varosha in Famagusta instead of just being informed after the fact. He was referring to the announcement by the ‘government’ on an inventory of the town’s buildings but also over talk that Varosha would open under Turkish Cypriot administration, a move with which Akinci expressed his opposition but also discontent over not being consulted.