Turkish Cypriot MEP Niyazi Kizilyurek hit back at the north’s ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu on Friday following criticism levelled over his re-election campaigning in the north.

“Tahsin Ertugruloglu is the last person who can say anything about relations between the Turkish Cypriots and the European Union,” he said.

He added that there are two reasons for the Turkish Cypriots finding themselves on the periphery of the EU – “one is that the Greek Cypriots said no to the Annan plan in 2004, the other is that [late Turkish Cypriot leader] Rauf Denktash and Tahsin Ertugruloglu said no to the Annan plan at the Copenhagen summit in 2002.”

“Similarly, [Denktash and Ertugruloglu] rejected the Annan plan for the second time in The Hague in 2003 and allowed the Greek Cypriots to unilaterally sign the accession agreement on behalf of Cyprus,” he said.

He added that up until 2003, the Greek Cypriot side “did not dare say no” to the Annan plan as they had not secured EU membership.

“While Turkish Cypriots, together with the Ak Parti government, were fighting for a yes vote to the Annan plan at the time … Tahsin Ertugruloglu and those like him were hoping for a coup against the Ak Parti government,” he said.

He added, “finally, in the 2004 referendum, Greek Cypriots said no to the Annan plan because that ship had already sailed. It is worth remembering that Tahsin Ertugruloglu, along with the Greek Cypriots, said no to the Annan plan.”

He noted that as a result of that sequence of the events, “the Republic of Cyprus because an EU member without a solution and the EU granted some rights to the Turkish Cypriots.”

“All I am doing is protecting and advancing the Turkish Cypriots’ legitimate rights,” he said.

He added, “in other words, we are not after a ‘crumb of mercy’, as Tahsin Ertugruloglu said,” but a solution to the Cyprus problem.

I invite Turkish Cypriots to turn a deaf ear to Tahsin Ertugruloglu’s calls and to participate in the European elections in order to strongly defend the right sand opportunities which belong to the Turkish Cypriots,” he said.

Ertugruloglu and Turkish Cypriot Leader Ersin Tatar had both on Wednesday levelled criticism at Kizilyurek over his decision to campaign for re-election to the European parliament in the north.

On Thursday, Rauf Denktash’s son Serdar Denktash said the north should hold parallel ‘EU’ elections and send two representatives to Brussels “to knock on the doors of the European parliament every day and remind people every day of the injustice done unto the Turkish Cypriots.”

Kizilyurek became the first Turkish Cypriot to be elected to the European Parliament in 2019, on Akel’s ticket. He is standing for re-election on June 9.