Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar had some harsh words for his compatriots in the south this week, saying Turkey’s concerns over NATO candidate Sweden’s PKK links also had basis in the south and called on Greek Cypriots to reevaluate their “cooperation with terrorist organizations.”
Tatar issued a statement on Thursday saying Turkey’s concerns over Sweden and Finland applying to join NATO gave him an opportunity to draw attention to Greek Cypriot relations with PKK, a Kurdish group designated by many countries as a terrorist organization.
The Turkish Cypriot leader criticized the Republic of Cyprus for allowing PYD, the political arm of PKK, to set up shop in the Greek Cypriot south. The launch of the office took place in January 2022 according to claims in Turkish media.
Tahsin Ertugruloglu, who oversees foreign affair matters in the north, said “Greek Cyprus must know that it’s playing with fire,” arguing at the time that the office was headed by a Kurdish man, whose extradition on terrorism-related charges to Germany had been rejected by a Larnaca court in July 2019.
Ocalan, who unsuccessfully sought asylum in Europe and was jetted away by Greeks, was eventually caught in Africa with a Cypriot passport following a series of embarrassing and diplomatic faux pas
Cerkez Korkmaz, who was arrested in March 2019 at Larnaca International Airport based on an international arrest warrant issued by German authorities, defeated his extradition after a judge found political beliefs were behind his persecution.
But Tatar took things further in his statement, rehashing an old story of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan who was caught with a Cypriot passport trying to evade capture back in 1999.
Ocalan, who unsuccessfully sought asylum in Europe and was jetted away by Greeks, was eventually caught in Africa following a series of embarrassing and diplomatic faux pas in European capitals and neighboring countries.
“Reminding that the Greek Cypriot administration had previously given the terrorist leader Abdullah Ocalan a so-called ‘Republic of Cyprus’ passport under the false name ‘Lazaros Mavros’ in order to be able to move around and escape under the supervision of Greek Intelligence Organization personnel and that it supported terrorism,” Tatar wrote.
Greek Cypriot veteran journalist Lazaros Mavros, a supporter of the Kurdish cause, had previously stated publicly that his passport had been stolen.
But Tatar also attempted to make other points about what he called a Greek Cypriot mentality, referring to Orthodox priests recently practicing at a military shooting range but also EOKA that fought to unite Cyprus with Greece at the detriment of Turkish Cypriots.
“This mentality (Greek part) proves once again that it is the most realistic solution for the two peoples (in Cyprus) to live side by side in their own respective states, on their own land, in good neighborly relations,” Tatar argued.
He went on to say that his points ought to serve as reminders to other countries that they ought to be “impartial observers” in the Cyprus Problem.
"I invite the Greek Cypriot administration to review its relations with terrorism and terrorist organizations and abandon political plots for cooperating with terrorist organizations that threaten all humanity,” Tatar wrote.