Cyprus Mail

Coronavirus: ‘Politicisation of health’ claims after Akinci criticised over Greek Cypriot aid

Former Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci

Health issues should not be used for political reasons Turkish Cypriot members of the bicommunal committee on health matters said on Monday after Mustafa Akinci was slammed by some quarters in the north for requesting medicine and supplies from the Greek Cypriot side.

Akinci himself had hit back in a Facebook post late Sunday but on Monday the Turkish Cypriot members of the committee issued a written statement saying they had prepared a list of what they needed to curb the spread of Covid-19, including 2,000 chloroquine tablets, an anti-malaria drug that has been producing some promising results around the world in treating the virus.

“The committee has been working for 12 years to develop cooperation and trust between the two communities in the field of health, to develop joint plans for health problems which pose a risk to both communities and to help people in both communities to deal with health problems,” the statement from the Turkish Cypriot members said.

Both sides had cooperated during the swine flu and bird flu epidemics and also for the prevention and treatment of communicable diseases “that do not recognise borders”.
The list of needs related to the coronavirus was made after consultation with experts at the ‘health ministry’, which was then transmitted both to the Greek Cypriot side and through the UNDP to the EU.
“Unfortunately, some circles tried to politically exploit cooperation on such a humanitarian issue,” the committee members said.

“At a time when everyone is involved in a common struggle, health should not be used as a political tool and we want to emphasise once again that our goal is only to protect human health,” the statement concluded.

In his post, Akinci hit out at his critics saying that Covid-19 was a common enemy that threatened all of humanity. He and President Nicos Anastasiades had spoken on the phone Saturday after which it emerged that the government was going to be sending medicines and supplies to the north this week.

The north has until now recorded 100 coronavirus cases and four deaths, two German tourists, one Turkish Cypriot and one Turkish national living permanently in the north. Akinci said in his response post that he could not believe “that at such a time, there can be such hatred and enmity”.

“Even if the unfair attacks continue it is a great injustice,” he added because he was not the one who thought of asking for the chloroquine but rather the Turkish Cypriot joint head of the bicommunal health committee who is a doctor.

“Because if the issue of those who react is that we should not ask for anything from the Greek Cypriot side, then those who react probably do not know that even in normal conditions there are some services in the field of health which we receive from the south,” he added. “And especially because the crossings are closed, our patients who are facing serious problems will benefit.”

Akinci said that intercommunal cooperation as well as solidarity were inevitable at a time like this.  “International solidarity and collective action are very important. It is a struggle for the existence of humanity,” Akinci said.

Turkish Cypriot ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar, when asked said when he met Akinci, the latter had not told him he would make such a request to the Greek Cypriots.

“It may be a health issue, but it’s also political,” said Tatar. “The presidency should not have made such a move on its own, but should have asked the government directly. Until now, we have been taking these drugs from Turkey. Now we went and asked for them from the Greek Cypriot side.” For him, he said, this was unnecessary.

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