Authorities in the north have alerted their officers at all checkpoints to be on the lookout for specific individuals in the south who were identified in a video during the burning of a Turkish Cypriot flag.
Last week a flag burning incident was posted on the website of the National Popular Front, a far-right Greek Cypriot party known as ELAM. The video showed scenes from Friday’s youth demonstration against the unilateral declaration of independence in the north, including supporters burning a Turkish Cypriot flag.
The flag burning was heavily criticized in the north prompting reactions from political parties as well as Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
Over the weekend, according to local media, the Turkish Cypriot leader called ELAM “racist and fascist” adding that the far-right party did not only use hate speech but also carried out acts that incite hate.
Kudret Ozersay, who is in charge of foreign matters in the north, also weighed in on the issue, taking to social media to announce he would be talking with Turkish Cypriot law enforcement and also consult with the United Nations regarding the individuals involved as well as possible measures.
“Those who do not respect the flag, the symbols and values of those who are different from them, they haven’t been taught how to be civilized,” Ozersay said.
Internet users in the south also took to social media to comment on the incident, with some asking why ELAM didn’t use the Turkish flag and instead burned the Turkish Cypriot flag.
ELAM, which describes itself as a “nationalist” party, wrote on November 15 on their website that the youth of the party took to the streets to protest the UDI by Turkish Cypriots in 1983, which resulted to the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC) recognized only by Turkey.
'Those who do not respect the flag, the symbols and values of those who are different from them, they haven’t been taught how to be civilized,' Ozersay said.
Several photos were posted including one that showed the burning of the TRNC flag, with the caption reading “as a response to the Greco-Turkish friendship, members of the Youth Front burned the rag of occupation in a symbolic gesture.”
“This land is Greek and no federal solution will be tolerated,” the youth chanted according to the website, among other slogans against Turkey.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry also reacted to the incident, condemning the flag burning while also pointing fingers at the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus and accusing them of keeping quiet over the matter.
“We condemn the burning of the TRNC flag on the 36th anniversary of its establishment in the Greek Cypriot side and we give full support to TRNC authorities’ statements regarding this incident,” a press release said on Sunday.
The statement also targeted the Republic of Cyprus, calling it Greek Cypriot Administration, as well as Greek authorities, alleging the two ought to bear some responsibility due to their statements that often “provoke hatred towards the Turkish Cypriots.”
“The fact that the Greek Cypriots have neither made any statement condemning this act of hatred nor have investigated the perpetrators, demonstrates that this act has official support behind,” the statement added.
ELAM, which has publicly called for a unitary state solution to the Cyprus problem, reacted to the Turkish foreign ministry calling the statement “laughable.”
“The statement from the Foreign Ministry of Turkey that says burning a piece of rag representing occupation is an act that incites hate is only laughable, coming from a country that has a long criminal record, countless war crimes, genocides and ethnic cleansing policies,” ELAM said.
Ozersay said the individuals shown in the video burning the flag have been identified while it was understood that Turkish Cypriot checkpoints were have been notified.