Greek and Turkish Cypriot political parties on Friday called on President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar to send a joint rescue mission to the earthquake zone in Turkey.
An announcement was signed by Greek Cypriot parties Disy, Akel, Depa, Edi, and by the Turkish Cypriot parties: CTP, BKP, HP, KOSP, KSP, TDP, and YKP.
A Republic of Cyprus rescue team that had been ready to leave the island for Turkey on Thursday but in the end was grounded when Turkey said it no longer required help. The foreign ministry announced on Friday that Turkey had “kindly declined” their offer.
Meanwhile, a Cyprus-wide campaign to collect aid for the victims of Monday’s earthquake in Turkey and Syria is continuing with House President Annita Demetriou on Friday handing over a donation from parliament.
Visiting the collection centre in Larnaca, Demetriou sent her condolences to all the victims affected by the earthquake and Turkish Cypriots, who lost loved ones.
“There is deep sadness and unimaginable pain for the unjust loss of our fellow human beings and compatriots,” she said. “Our sincere condolences to each individual family experiencing the loss of their loved ones.”
An attempt to take donations directly to Turkish Cypriots sparked a scuffle on Thursday night and online condemnation on Friday.
A group of people were blocked from crossing over the Ledra palace checkpoint but then let through, drawing harsh criticism among Turkish Cypriot opposition, who blamed ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu for the incident.
Earlier, the ‘foreign minister’ said that Greek Cypriots “had insidious dreams and were trying to separate Turkish Cypriots from motherland Turkey.”
He made these statements at a joint press conference with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and were in response to send a team of aid workers from the state-controlled areas to help in search and rescue efforts.
Commenting on Ertugruloglu’s statements, saying that the Greek Cypriot side is exploiting a humanitarian issue, main opposition CTP ‘MP’ Dogus Derya called the ‘foreign minister’ a racist.
“The racist Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertugruloglu does not allow aid from Greek Cypriots to pass! Young people are trying to carry these aids with their hands at the door of Ledra Palace! At a time when people are struggling with their lives in the cold and hunger, isn’t it despicable to prevent aid from arriving?” she wrote on social media.
TDP Chairman Mine Atli added: “Today, the goal of dozens of people at the Ledra Palace crossing was not just water. In all this pain, there was a desire to feel humanity, solidarity, and love in these beautiful people.
“There is a great disaster, and after the urgent needs, there will be hundreds of thousands of people who need support for weeks or even months,” Atli added.
She called on the north’s ‘government’ to “stop this hatred.”
In his comment, HP party Kudret Ozersay also condemned Ertugruloglu’s comments saying: “Leave political squabbles aside, as it is a virtue to accept the helping hand that is extended, no matter what state or ethnic group it comes from.”
Aid is being collected across all of Cyprus for earthquake victims, in the state-controlled areas by all municipalities and sites of the volunteerism commissioner’s office, and in the north at all the ‘municipal’ offices.