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Akinci says Varosha move an election ploy

Current Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci suggested on Wednesday that Varosha was being used as an election ploy and said he continues to support UN-backed efforts in opening the ghost town.

“A meeting was organised with everyone except Akinci [me],” he said on Wednesday evening at a press conference.

“Things are said two months before an election. There is no one who doesn’t know what that meeting meant.”

Akinci was referring to the unprecedented event held on Saturday between Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officials to discuss opening up the fenced off town.

Those present at the meeting included Turkey’s Vice-President Fuat Oktay, who maintained that it is time to open up Varosha as there has been no progress in finding a solution to the Cyprus problem for almost half a century.

However Akinci has opposed the move, and reiterated on Wednesday that “my opinion is that it would be good to open Maras [Varosha] under the supervision of the UN.”

He also said Varosha has an international dimension and can’t be treated as an “internal issue”, so when it is discussed, all aspects of the Cyprus problem should be addressed.

Three journalists quizzed Akinci, and brought up his recent spat with Ankara over an interview he held with Britain’s The Guardian newspaper earlier in the month.

In that interview, Akinci said “we do not accept to be a minority of the Greek Cypriots, nor a slave to rulers in Turkey.”

On Wednesday he reiterated that the relationship of the north with Turkey must not be subordinate.

“There must be an equal relationship,” he said. “We need civilised relations with Turkey while trying to do our own homework well.”

Akinci was adamant however that the relationship with Ankara was at no point “hostile”.

However after the interview appeared Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had called Akinci “the most untrustworthy” person he had ever worked with.

Akinci said if he wins the election, his top priority would be a resumption of the talks based on what was agreed between the leaders and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Berlin last November.
Akinci launched his re-election campaign on February 5, running as an independent candidate ahead of the Turkish Cypriot leadership vote on April 26.

He struck a distinctly conciliatory tone at the launch event.

“My goal in the pre-election period is not to lay blame on us or the Greek Cypriot side,” he said in reference to the failed talks in Crans Montana.

Highlighting the core message of his campaign as an independent candidate, he said “we want independence and freedom.”

Preceding the campaign period however was the spat between him and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, laying the groundwork for Akinci to distance himself from Ankara.

Last November Akinci criticised Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria, drawing strong condemnation from Erdogan himself as well as other top Turkish politicians.

The public fallout set the tone for the recent war of words during the Turkish Cypriots’ election campaign.

Akinci stood his ground early this month and further reinforced his point, saying the slogan “Cyprus is Turkish” is a 1950s’ slogan and belongs in the past.


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