Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci found himself on the defensive for a third consecutive day on Tuesday after the ‘ruling’ National Unity Party (UBP) of ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar said he should no longer participate in Cyprus negotiations.
Tatar said Akinci had lost the confidence of the people and given the ‘presidential elections’ in 2020 he should not participate in Cyprus negotiations unless he is re-elected.
The party took the decision at an extraordinary session late on Monday. Tatar said Akinci’s statements on Syria were unacceptable since Turkey was acting in self-defence and the operation was not a war aimed at bloodshed.
Akinci, who was slammed by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday, had drawn a comparison with Cyprus, essentially saying war was war and in every instance involved bloodshed, though he defended the rights of Turkey to protect itself from terrorism. He said negotiations between Turkey and Syria to resolve issues with the Kurds was the way forward.
The Turkish Cypriot leader was slammed by Erdogan who said he had overstepped his bounds and deserved to be taught a lesson by the Turkish Cypriot people.
Tatar criticised Akinci over the comparison with Cyprus, saying: “The Turkish armed forces brought peace to Cyprus”.
Akinci’s statement on Turkey’s Syria operation did not reflect the feelings of the Turkish Cypriots, said Tatar, accusing the Turkish Cypriot leader of bringing his people into conflict with Ankara, which was against their best interests.
“Mr Akinci does not represent the will of the Turkish people since he has made statements that question the existence and interests of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots on the island,” he said, adding that confidence in Akinci had been lost.
“Given that there are elections in the near future, Mr Akinci should not be involved in the Cyprus negotiations,” he added.
On Tuesday, Akinci hit back through spokesman Baris Burcu who, in a written statement, said the UBP’s statement would go down as stain in the history of Turkish Cypriot democracy.
“To think that the authority bestowed on President Mustafa Akinci with a decision taken by the body of a political party is absurd. The peoples’ will is shaped by the peoples’ vote and does not just vanish because a party body wishes it to,” he said. “It is clear that this shameful act will not receive the support of any citizen, irrelevant of their political orientation and background,” he added. Burcu said Akıncı would continue his duties “with determination with the support and authority given to him by the people”.
Meanwhile, the ‘parliament’ was continuing its debate on the issue in an attempt to find common ground for a joint statement.
‘Foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay widely perceived as ‘Ankara’s man’ in the north, said Akinci has the right to make statements outlining his own views but should avoid those that spark political controversy or that would be misunderstood.
Akinci had only commented initially on Facebook because he was criticised for staying silent on the Syria question.