Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has engaged in a war of words with the newly-elected leader of Turkish Cypriots over the nature of the relationship between the two countries, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
“Do his ears hear what he says?” President Erdoğan said during a press conference on April 27 after being asked by a journalist if he approved of a recent statement by Mustafa Akıncı, the new president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Akıncı, a leftist moderate who has promised to press for a peace deal in ethnically-split Cyprus, was elected the TRNC’s president in a run-off on April 26. He had reiterated his position that the status of the relationship between Turkey and Turkish Cyprus should change. “It should be a relationship of brothers/sisters, not a relationship of a motherland and her child,” he had said.
“Even working together as brothers has its conditions. We paid a price for northern Cyprus. We gave martyrs and we continue to pay a price,” Erdoğan said on April 27. “For Turkey, northern Cyprus is our baby. We will continue to look at it the way a mother looks at her baby,” he added.
Akıncı, whose live interview with CNN Türk television was interrupted due to Erdoğan’s press conference, fired back immediately.
After listening to Erdoğan’s words in the studio, Akıncı stressed on air he had been elected president by Turkish Cypriots. “Doesn’t Turkey want to see its baby grow up? Should we always stay a baby?” he asked, stressing he stood behind his words, which were “heard not only by [his] ears, but uttered by [his] conscience, heart and brain.”
Akıncı then cut the interview short, saying he had to answer a phone call from Erdoğan.