Turkish Cypriot trade unionists on Thursday threatened a general strike, should the ‘government’ not withdraw its decision to import meat from the Netherlands by Friday.

Farmers’ protests entered their fourth day on Thursday, with tractors and other agricultural vehicles remaining parked outside ‘government’ buildings, and hay bales and tyres being set alight.

The ‘government’ had announced its decision to begin importing meat from the Netherlands on May 17, with ‘prime minister’ Unal Ustel attempting to get ahead of a backlash by saying there would be “no stepping back” from the decision.

However, farmers descended on northern Nicosia on Monday, announcing an “indefinite” protest.

They smashed the gate of the ‘prime minister’s’ office on Tuesday and then smashed the gate of the ‘transport ministry’ building on Wednesday after ‘minister’ Erhan Arikli had once again doubled down on the ‘government’s’ decision to import Dutch meat.

He also seemed to insinuate hypocrisy on the part of the farmers, making reference to their “tractors worth three or five million liras” – between €86,000 and €143,000 – and told the farmers, “if you cannot win, don’t do this job, brother.”

The north’s animal producers’ and breeders’ union chairman Mustafa Naimogullari responded in kind, calling Arikli a “thief”, demanding he resign, and saying people who vote for him should “think again”.