Turkey’s ruling coalition lashes out at Turkish-Cypriot president over the Guardian interview

(Updated with comments from AKP spokesman in paragraphs 6, 7)

The leader of the Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) called on Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı to resign for his comments in an interview with the British daily the Guardian published on Thursday.

Bahçeli said the interview had exposed the scandalous attitude of Akıncı, the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), a breakaway state only recognised by Turkey. 

“Therefore it is an inevitable and vital responsibility for him to hand over the duty entrusted to him to the will of the Cypriot Turks by immediately resigning from office,” Bahçeli said about Akıncı in a written statement published on Saturday.

“Akıncı and his supporters should not forget that Cyprus is Turkish and will remain Turkish,” Hürriyet daily quoted Bahçeli as saying. 

The far-right leader said Akıncı had continuously provoked Turkey’s sensitivities since he had become president in 2015. Bahçeli said it would be more reasonable for the Turkish-Cypriot president to move to the Greek part of the divided island should his disturbances over Turkey continued. 

Akıncı has made another statement contrary to the Cypriot Turkish cause, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Spokesman Ömer Çelik said in a series of tweets. 

“Akıncı must apologise for his disrespect towards the Republic of Turkey and our nation with his statements. We condemn these statements that malign our history’s national achievements and respectable personalities,” Çelik tweeted.

Akıncı said in the interview that the Mediterranean island faced permanent partition of its Greek and Turkish communities unless an agreement was swiftly reached involving an “equitable” federal solution.

If this failed to happen, he said, the north would grow increasingly dependent on Ankara and could end up being swallowed up, as a de facto Turkish province.

Commenting on the possibility of a full military takeover by Turkey, Akıncı was quoted by the Guardian as saying the prospect of a Crimea-style annexation was "horrible."

The island of 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.