Political parties in the north are scrambling to pass a mutual statement through the assembly following controversial comments made by the Turkish Cypriot leader regarding Ankara’s offensive in Syria.
On Tuesday, according to the Cyprus News Agency, media reports in the north were focusing on Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and a statement he made over the weekend about Ankara’s military incursion into northern Syria. Akinci took to Facebook on Saturday to answer back at critics who accused him of being silent about the operation, dubbed by the Turks as “Operation Peace Spring.”
“Even though we called the offensive in 1974 Operation Peace, it was a war and blood was spilled. Now, even if we say Operation Peace Spring, what is being spilled is not water, it is blood. For this reason, it is my greatest wish that dialogue and diplomacy come into play as soon as possible,” Akinci wrote.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who responded the following day, said the Turkish Cypriot leader had "totally overstepped his bounds,” warning that an “appropriate response” would come at the right time.
'It is our common desire that Turkey get rid of the scourge of terrorism from which it has suffered plenty,' Akinci said in a follow-up statement
Members of the Turkish Cypriot assembly met on Monday in north Nicosia in an emergency session, with some parties calling for Akinci’s resignation. But the majority of parties were calling either for unity or a de-escalation, while some parties said Akinci should not be representing the Turkish Cypriot community in possible upcoming peace talks over the Cyprus problem.
Akinci reportedly had changed the viewing status of his comment from public to private following negative comments on Facebook. But he also rejected the complaints, describing the remarks as “unjust.”
"It is our common desire for Turkey to get rid of the scourge of terrorism from which it has suffered plenty," Akinci said in a follow-up statement.
Erdogan, who was delivering a speech in Azerbaijan on Monday, had likened Ankara’s military offensive into northeast Syria to the 1974 military intervention in Cyprus, when Turkey invaded militarily following a short-lived coup engineered by Athens.
A day later, a response also came from Turkey’s ruling party AKP, with spokesperson Omer Celik taking to Twitter to argue that the Turkish military both in Cyprus in 1974 and currently in Syria aimed at fighting “murderous networks.”
“The Cyprus Operation Peace was an operation against a murder network and it established peace. Operation Peace Spring is also the fight against terrorism we carry out against a murder network,” Celik said.
While the majority of Turkish people support the military offensive in Syria, a number of Turkish Cypriots on the island spoke against Turkey's actions, including AKEL MEP Niyazi Kizilyurek. The newly-elected academic, who is the first ever ethnically Turkish Cypriot elected MEP in the Republic of Cyprus, recently opened his office in north Nicosia.
“The Kurds are an oppressed people, beaten and kept down for decades,” said Kizilyurek, who also described the Turkish offensive in Syria as “chauvinism of the big state.”