World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey announced on Wednesday that its financial aid to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) will not be affected by a high-level political spat over a Turkish Cypriot protest against Ankara.
"The aid to the KKTC is continuing and will continue as announced previously," Foreign Ministry spokesman Selçuk Ünal said at a press conference. He also said the recent tension will not affect negotiations between Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu and Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias on reunification of the island.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has harshly condemned the anti-Turkey slogans during a demonstration in the KKTC late last month to protest Turkey-backed austerity measures. Noting that some protesters told Turkey to "get out," Erdoğan said: "Who are you to tell me to get out? I have martyrs [who died during Turkey's 1974 intervention in Cyprus to protect Turkish Cypriots from Greek Cypriot attacks], I have strategic interests."
Eroğlu and KKTC Prime Minister İrsen Küçük have tried to contain the damage, while opposition parties have jointly condemned Erdoğan's remarks.
On Wednesday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek poured more oil on the fire, saying those protesters who chanted insulting slogans against Turkey made no objection when they got their salaries paid out of the money sent by Turkey only a few days after the protest. "One day, they curse Turkey and the other day they see no problem in accepting the money we have sent," Çiçek said in remarks broadcast on the private NTV television.
Çiçek also reiterated his claim that some of the protesters had links to Greek Cyprus. "There is a plot here because the Greek Cypriot administration feels like it has been pushed into the corner [in reunification talks]. Greek Cyprus is provoking certain elements in the KKTC to harm the Turkish-Turkish Cypriot brotherhood," said Çiçek.
Talks between Eroğlu and Christofias have so far not resulted in significant progress. The two leaders met again on Wednesday, agreeing to a schedule of weekly meetings themselves and biweekly meetings for their aides, according to United Nations Special Envoy Alexander Downer.
The United Nations has shown increased engagement in Cyprus in the past year, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meeting its leaders twice in the past three months. Ban said on Tuesday that his Jan. 26 talks with Eroğlu and Christofias were fruitful and announced that he would hold new talks with the Cypriot leaders soon. Diplomats say this meeting is tentatively scheduled for late March to early April.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Şubat 2011, 17:36