Hoping to blast Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci out of the leadership race Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu chose the nuclear option when branding him “untrustworthy” and a “supporter of terrorism”.
Highlighting the Turkish Cypriot leader’s rift with Ankara, Cavusoglu said that he “had never worked with such an untrustworthy politician as Mustafa Akinci”.
These comments serve as a backdrop to looming Turkish Cypriot leadership elections on 26 April.
During a press conference with his Slovenian counterpart Miroslav Kesar, Cavusoglu was called to comment on Akinci’s interview to The Guardian.
Akinci had told the British newspaper that “the Turkish Cypriots did not want to become a minority under the Greek Cypriots, nor be ruled by Turkey”.
He noted that a possible annexation of the north of Cyprus in the style Russia annexed the Crimea “would be a nightmare scenario and not in the interest of the Turkish Cypriots”.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister said he worked with Akinci during the negotiations at the Cyprus Conference at Crans-Montana, where he “proved to be untrustworthy on a number of occasions”.
He accused the Turkish Cypriot leader of attacking Turkey, to score points in the upcoming elections.
Cavusoglu argued that “no Turkish Cypriot would ever dream of being witness to such events. That a Turkish Cypriot politician would use Turkey in his election campaign”.
He said that Turkish Cypriots should take this into consideration when voting for their next leader, claiming that “Turkey cannot interfere”, although Cavusoglu’s comments suggest otherwise.
In its interview with the Turkish Cypriot leader, The Guardian called Akinci, a “fierce critic” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for meddling in Turkish Cypriot affairs.
Erdogan has also singled out Akinci for criticism after he opposed Turkey’s decision to invade Syria.
In a written statement Akinci said: “The issue is not complicated. It is clear. Turkish Cypriots do not want to become a minority on the Greek Cypriot side or live in permanent dependency on Turkey.”
He added that the principle is for the breakaway regime to be transformed into one of the equal constituent states in a federal Cyprus.
“This effort must be supported. Such a Cyprus with its north and south (constituent states) will look upon Turkey with a friendly eye. This is to everyone’s benefit”.
Asked to comment on the spat, Cyprus government spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos said: “It is our firm position that we do not interfere in any way with the election process for leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.”
He said Nicosia “would like a leader who will support the continuation of the dialogue on the basis of what has already been agreed and to resume talks from where things were left at Crans-Montana.”
“The Greek Cypriot side’s firm position is that no one should interfere in the process of electing the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.”