North Cyprus head stands firm in row over Turkey criticism

Mustafa Akinci, president of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, took the rare step over the weekend of criticizing Turkey, the only country that recognizes the TRNC. (Reuters)
Updated 14 October 2019

North Cyprus head stands firm in row over Turkey criticism

  • Akinci’s opponents in northern Nicosia called an extraordinary session of parliament Monday to press for his resignation, saying he had damaged ties with the country’s only patron
  • Akinci said that Turkey, which still maintains 30,000-40,000 troops in the TRNC, should focus on improving its relations with the EU, which has condemned the Turkish offensive in Syria

NICOSIA: The leader of breakaway northern Cyprus, Mustafa Akinci, stood firm in the face of calls to resign on Monday after criticizing Turkey’s military offensive in Syria.
Akinci, president of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, took the rare step over the weekend of criticizing Turkey, the only country that recognizes the TRNC.
“Even if we call it ‘Peace Spring’, it is blood that is spilling and not water,” he wrote on Facebook, referring to the codename of the Turkish military operation against Kurdish-held northeast Syria launched last Wednesday.
He also called for “dialogue and diplomacy.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded on Sunday that the Turkish Cypriot leader had “totally overstepped his bounds.”
Erdogan warned: “At the given time, we will deliver an appropriate response.”
Akinci’s opponents in northern Nicosia called an extraordinary session of parliament Monday to press for his resignation, saying he had damaged ties with the country’s only patron.
But Akinci rejected the complaints as “unjust,” although he sought to nuance his remarks on Facebook.
“It is our common desire that Turkey gets rid of the scourge of terrorism that it has suffered a lot,” he said in a statement.
“However, I believe that it’s time for the war... on Syrian soil to come to an end,” he added.
Undaunted, Akinci asked: “Since when has defending peace become a crime?” And he added that the divided Mediterranean island’s Turkish Cypriots were not dependent on Ankara’s patronage.
“Turkey has done more than anyone to support the Turkish Cypriot people and state. However, Turkish Cypriots have reached their current position through their own great struggles,” he said.
The republic was created after Turkey invaded northern Cyprus in 1974 following a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece, and it has remained divided.
Akinci also said that Turkey, which still maintains 30,000-40,000 troops in the TRNC, should focus on improving its relations with the European Union, which has condemned the Turkish offensive in Syria.
The Greek Cypriot-run Republic of Cyprus in the south, a country which Ankara does not recognize, is an EU member.


Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.