Turkish-Cypriot president hits back Turkish nationalist leader

Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has insulted Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı with his “outdated, fascistic and racist comments,” a spokesman for Akıncı said on Saturday.

Bahçeli “continued his habit of insulting the Cypriot Turkish people, using our President Mustafa Akıncı’s interview with the Guardian,” Spokesman Barış Burcu’s statement said, calling the far-right leader’s tone “conflict-prone.”

Akıncı, the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), a breakaway state only recognised by Turkey, had stressed that Turkey annexing the Turkish third of the Mediterranean island would be wrong, and that the Cypriot Turks saw such a scenario to be unacceptable, the statement continued.

“The goal of Cypriot Turks is not to become a minority for the Greek part, or to be annexed by Turkey,” the statement said. “Our efforts are to achieve our respectable place in the world in equality, freedom and security, while preserving our authentic character and identity as the Cypriot Turkish people.”

Bahçeli had said it would have been more reasonable for the Turkish-Cypriot president to move to the Greek part of the divided island, were his disturbances over Turkey to continue.

The statement accused Bahçeli of constantly “engaging in politics over the blood of martyrs,” and stressed that Akıncı was a veteran of Turkey’s 1974 military intervention in Cyprus.

“As a man who has personally lived through war, (Akıncı) is in a position to appreciate the value of peace so much more than the MHP leader,” it continued.

Akıncı, speaking at an art exhibition where he met with the internationally-recognised Republic of Cyprus’s President Nikos Anastasiades, told the Guardian that the island risked a permanent partition of its Greek and Turkish communities unless an agreement was swiftly reached involving an “equitable” federal solution.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the island in response to a coup d'etat backed by Greece's nationalist government at the time.

Turkey still maintains some 35,000 troops in the island's breakaway north, and says that it will not remove its soldiers until a tangible agreement to reunite the island is reached.