President Nikos Christodoulides on Tuesday said he would not engage in a public debate with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan over allegations Cyprus is an “operation centre” for Israel’s war in Gaza.

In an interview with Turkey’s Habertürk TV channel, Fidan warned that intelligence-gathering and military flights from the island to Gaza were ongoing and could instigate an escalation of the conflict.

He described Cyprus was becoming an “operation centre” in the Israel-Gaza war, along with the Greek islands. As such, Fidan warned the risk of an expanded conflict was grave, and could lead to Turkey being drawn in.

His statements come at the heels of a direct threat by Hezbollah’s leader that it would consider Cyprus part of the war.  

Asked to comment on Tuesday evening, Christodoulides said the only role Cyprus hax is a humanitarian one, and implied Fidan was trying to hit back because of the increased recognition Cyprus was receiving at international level.

“I want to say to the Turkish Foreign Minister that Cyprus is a centre of operations, a centre of humanitarian operations. Humanitarian aid is being sent, supported by the international community. It is a centre of operations to evacuate civilians from the area, as we have done many times, we have done so recently.”

Christodoulides added he “understands the Turkish Foreign Minister’s difficulty” seeing as Cyprus’ role is recognised at an international level. “Through such statements he is trying to involve Cyprus into the conflict.”

Nonetheless, irrespective of what Fidan says, Cyprus role is known to everyone: “sending humanitarian aid, evacuating populations,” Christodoulides underlined.

He noted that it was “a bit unfortunate” to hear that from Turkey’s Foreign Minister when “we all know very well what is happening in Turkey in relation to all these issues. So, I understand the difficult position he is in, precisely because of the recognition of the role of the Republic of Cyprus.”

The president reiterated “we are not involved. We are part of the solution, not the problem, not with words, but with actions.”

Christodoulides added he would not engage in a dialogue that had threats as a backdrop.

“That is where they want to take the debate. We take everything very seriously, we do not downplay anything, but I am not going to engage in a public debate aimed at serving the narrative of the Turkish Foreign Minister,” he said.