Turkey accused the leader of breakaway northern Cyprus on Monday of being “dishonest” after he described the prospect of annexation by Ankara as horrible.
“I’ve never worked anywhere, either in Cyprus or elsewhere, with a politician who is so dishonest,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Mustafa Akinci, president of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, told the UK’s Guardian newspaper last week that he favored reunification under a federal “roof.”
Northern Cyprus declared independence from the Greek-speaking south in 1983 almost a decade after a Turkish invasion - but its status is still recognized only by Turkey.
Akinci warned that if unification did not happen, the north would become increasingly dependent on Ankara and could become a de facto Turkish province.
He launched his campaign last week to be re-elected in a vote scheduled for April 26 and Cavusoglu accused him of “using Turkey” for election purposes “when the issue is not even on the agenda.”
“What advantage can be there be from hurting relations with Turkey, what will it serve?” Cavusoglu asked during a press conference in Ankara.
Since 1974, Turkish troops have been stationed in Cyprus after occupying the northern third in response to a coup sponsored by the military junta then ruling Greece.
The Republic of Cyprus in the south has been an EU member state since 2004.
There has been no movement towards reunification since talks collapsed in July 2017 during a summit in Switzerland.
Cavusoglu referred to Akinci’s “dishonesty” after the talks but did not give details.
There was a war of words between Akinci and Turkish officials in October 2019 when Akinci criticized Ankara’s operation against a Kurdish militia in Syria.
Erdogan at the time said Akinci had “totally overstepped his bounds.”