Cyprus condemns ‘provocation’ of Erdogan ghost town picnic

The visit on Sunday to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and to Varosha for the picnic constitute a “provocation without precedent,” President Nicos Anastasiades said. (Screenshot/YouTube)
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Updated 14 November 2020

Cyprus condemns ‘provocation’ of Erdogan ghost town picnic

  • A vacation spot that was dubbed a "Jewel of the Mediterranean", Varosha had been fenced off ever since Turkey’s 1974 invasion of northern Cyprus

NICOSIA: Cyprus Saturday condemned as a “provocation without precedent” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s planned picnic in a long-abandoned beach resort to mark the anniversary of the divided island’s breakaway northern state.
The visit on Sunday to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and to Varosha for the picnic constitute a “provocation without precedent,” President Nicos Anastasiades said.
“They simultaneously undermine the efforts of the UN secretary-general to call an informal five-party meeting” between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Athens, Ankara and former colonial power London, he said.
Anastasiades, in a statement, said that such actions also “do not contribute to the creation of a favourable, positive climate for the resumption of talks for the solution of the Cyprus problem.”
The visit, just weeks after Erdogan helped a nationalist ally win election as Turkish Cypriot leader, is painful for the island’s Greek Cypriot majority, who have never given up their demand for the displaced to be allowed to return to their former homes in Varosha.
“These acts cause the outrage of all the people of Cyprus,” the island’s internationally-recognised president, who is also the Greek Cypriot leader, said in a statement.
A vacation spot that was dubbed a "Jewel of the Mediterranean", Varosha had been fenced off ever since Turkey’s 1974 invasion of northern Cyprus.
The invasion, launched in response to an Athens-engineered coup in Nicosia, was followed on November 15, 1983, by the declaration of the TRNC, which is recognised only by Ankara.
Turkish troops partially reopened the seafront of Varosha on October 8, stirring international criticism.
Greek and Turkish Cypriot organisations have signed a joint petition calling for Varosha’s “unilateral” reopening to halt, and for Erdogan to stay out.
“The festive nature of the reopening, built on the memories and suffering of its past inhabitants, hurts our conscience,” the petition reads.
“No interference! Freedom for all!” hundreds of Turkish Cypriot protesters chanted in northern Nicosia on Tuesday to denounce Erdogan’s visit.


Tens of thousands of Sadr supporters pack Iraqi capital

Updated 55 min 8 sec ago

Tens of thousands of Sadr supporters pack Iraqi capital

  • Despite the novel coronavirus pandemic, tens of thousands gathered shoulder-to-shoulder for noon Muslim prayers in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square
  • The Sadrist movement had called for protests to back the reform of what it says is Iraq’s corrupt state

BAGHDAD: Tens of thousands of supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr packed the streets of the Iraqi capital Friday in a show of force as preparations ramp up for June parliamentary elections.
Despite the novel coronavirus pandemic, tens of thousands gathered shoulder-to-shoulder for noon Muslim prayers in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, spilling out into the surrounding streets.
The Sadrist movement had called for protests to back the reform of what it says is Iraq’s corrupt state, but its populist leader has also been making moves ahead of next year’s vote.
In a tweet this week, Sadr said he expected major wins for his party and would push for the next prime minister to be a member of the Sadrist movement for the first time.
Sadrists had already won big in the May 2018 vote with 54 of parliament’s 329 seats, granting him the biggest single bloc.
This summer, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi set June 2021 as the date for the next parliamentary elections — nearly a year ahead of schedule to fulfil a key demand of the youth-dominated protest movement that erupted across Iraq in October 2019.
They will take place under a new electoral law agreed by parliament that will see district sizes reduced and votes for individual candidates replacing list-based ballots.
Most observers expect a delay of at least a few months while political parties prepare the groundwork of their campaigns, but experts say the new system is likely to benefit Sadr and his candidates.
On Friday, Sadr supporters carried Iraq’s national tricolor and posters of the cleric, some of which evoked his past as a militia leader by depicting him in camouflage.
Volunteers dressed in light blue — the movement’s color — sprayed disinfectant from plastic tanks on their backs.
Sadr, who is very rarely seen in public, did not attend the rally.