Turkish Cypriots do not wish to become a minority of the Greek Cypriot community nor do they want an unhealthy and unbalanced relationship with Turkey, Mustafa Akinci said on Thursday.
The Turkish Cypriot leader was responding to statements by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday. Cavusoglu had criticised circles in the north which had expressed opposition to Turkey’s military operation in north-eastern Syria.
Cavusoglu told Anadolu Agency that apart from a handful of Turkish Cypriot politicians and trade union representatives, the Turkish Cypriot people expressed their unwavering support to operation Peace Spring.
He said that some Turkish Cypriot politicians and trade unionists would side with the Greek Cypriot side instead of Turkey should they be asked to choose between the two.
On earlier statements by Akinci on Turkey’s Syria operations where the Turkish Cypriot leader had drawn a comparison with Cyprus, essentially saying that war was war and in every instance involved bloodshed, Cavusoglu said everyone was aware that Akinci’s comments were part of a manoeuvre aimed at the forthcoming elections in the north.
The comments drew the ire of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the time who had said Akinci had gone beyond his limits and needed to know his place. Akinci also received many death threats from persons in Turkey and Cyprus over his comments.
In a written statement on Thursday Akinci refuted as baseless, claims that his earlier remarks were part of a political manoeuvre.
“There is nothing more valuable than human life. Life is not about elections,” he said.
He added that diplomacy had prevailed in Syria and that the necessity to solve problems through dialogue had once more been demonstrated.
“I believe that it is imperative that Turkey improves its relations not only with Syria but all its neighbours and the EU,” Akinci said.
Akinci also said that it was the greatest wish of Turkish Cypriots to see a secure and safe Turkey free of terrorism but that there might be different ideas as to how this can be achieved.
“This does not justify directing threats and insults to those who express different views. No one has the right to do so such a thing,” he said.
Turkish Cypriots, he said, “want to enjoy political equality, freedom and security on this island through a federal settlement on the basis of two constituent states.”
“They desire a European and modern life while protecting and preserving their unique identity within international law,” he added.
Akinci pointed out that under no circumstances did Turkish Cypriots desire to become a minority of the Greek Cypriot community but they did not want an unhealthy and unbalanced relationship with Turkey either.
From that point of view, he said, Turkish Cypriots do not approve of actions or behaviour that evocates a superior-subordinate relationship but want “a civilised relationship based on mutual respect.”
He added that Turkish Cypriots urgently needed to be self-reliant and stop constantly seek Turkey’s assistance.
“It is inevitably our duty and responsibility to create an economically and strong structure for the Turkish Cypriot community,” Akinci said.
On the Cyprus issue, Cavusoglu said the Turkish side was ready to solve the Cyprus problem, pointing out that the elements of the principle of political equality which was a rotating presidency, effective participation in decision making and positive vote needed to be highlighted.
Cavusoglu said official talks could resume if all sides agreed on the issues and the framework of the negotiations at the tripartite between the two leaders and the UN Secretary-General and the ensuing informal five-party meeting with the guarantor powers. The two leaders are expected to meet Antonio Guterres in late November while the five-party meeting with the guarantor powers is slated to take place in December.
“We are determined and ready to start talks if the conditions are met. If the Greek Cypriots are not willing to negotiate within this framework then there is nothing left to talk about. We will continue our efforts to develop the TRNC,” Cavusoglu said.
According to the latest poll in the north, Akinci continues to come first by far in Turkish Cypriots’ preferences for the community’s leadership ahead of next April’s elections. The poll results announced this week concern the popularity of possible candidates expected to run in the elections.
Leader of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) Tufan Erhurman comes second while Peoples’ Party (HP) leader and ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay’s popularity fell from 11.4 per cent to 4.8 per cent. Ozersay, who three months ago ranked third in popularity, fell to fifth place.
The National Unity Party’s (UBP) likely candidate Oguzhan Hasipoglu ranks third while Serdar Denktash who might be the Democratic Party’s (DP) candidate was fourth in preferences.