Erdogan raps new Turkish Cypriot leader

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan became embroiled with a war of words with the newly elected leader of northern Cyprus on Monday, bluntly telling him he should be careful what says.

Mustafa Akinci, who won a run-off poll in the Turkish-occupied north of the divided island on Sunday, drew Ankara’s ire when he said Turkey and the breakaway state should enjoy a relationship of “brotherly countries” rather than mother and child.

The election of Akinci, a former mayor of northern Nicosia and a vocal advocate of reconciliation with the internationally recognized Cyprus government, has raised hopes of an end to the island’s decades-long division.

But Erdogan told reporters at an Ankara airport: “Mr president (Akinci) should listen to what he says.”

Turkey, the only country to recognize the breakaway state, has often referred to it as the “yavru vatan” or “baby homeland” — a label rejected by some Turkish Cypriots.

Turkish troops invaded northern Cyprus in 1974 and Turkish Cypriots declared their breakaway state in 1983.

“This country has paid a price in northern Cyprus and continues to do so,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey contributes about one billion dollars (900 million euros) to the north.

The failure to reach a deal to reunify the eastern Mediterranean island has also hampered Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union.

Speaking to CNN-Turk television, Akinci said he was seeking a “healthy relationship” with Ankara, not tensions.

“There is no hostility against Turkey here,” he said. “Doesn’t Turkey want to see its baby grow up?”


Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.