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Cyprus accuses Turkey of wanting 'complete control' of separatist north

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By Euronews  with AP
People hold Cyprus flags during a protest against the 47th anniversary of the Turkish invasion on the island, in Dherynia, Cyprus, July 2021
People hold Cyprus flags during a protest against the 47th anniversary of the Turkish invasion on the island, in Dherynia, Cyprus, July 2021   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Petros Karadjias

Cyprus has accused Turkey of seeking full control over the separatist north of the island, and will lodge a formal complaint with the United Nations, President Nicos Anastasiades told state broadcaster CyBC.

Anastasiades, a Greek Cypriot, claimed Turkey's new financial assistance deal with Turkish Cypriots, alongside changes to air travel, demonstrate Ankara's desire to completely "control" Turkish Cypriots in the north. 

Cyprus is an ethnically divided island, split between a minority of Turkish Cypriots in the north and Greek Cypriots in the south. Only Turkey recognises Turkish Cypriot's independence.

In the letter to the UN, Anastasiades said he would also protest Turkey's move to designate Turkish Cypriot's main airport as a domestic flight route, effectively turning it into a Turkish airport. 

“I will proceed with the complaint again with the United Nations relative to the airport which ... in essence is being integrated and considered a Turkish airport,” Anastasiades said. “Secondly, (financial) protocol clearly demonstrates Ankara’s complete control of the Turkish Cypriots.”

Turkish officials, however, have said the airport designation aims to make flights to and from northern Cyprus cheaper. 

Hardline Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar dismissed Anastasiades’ remarks as “Greek Cypriot propaganda” on Monday. Tatar also claimed that the financial deal was of "great importance" to reinvigorate the Turkish Cypriot economy ahead of presidential elections next year.

Financial dependency

Although the north has long been dependent on Turkish economic aid, many Turkish Cypriots are concerned over a new €240 million ($256 million) package of grants and loans from Turkey, which amount to one-third of the state's annual revenue.

United Cyprus Now, a peace group, says the deal compels Turkish Cypriots to introduce measures curbing freedom of speech, making it easier for Turkish citizens to buy up property on the island and gives more power over to religious authorities.

“These measures constitute a direct threat to the will, identity, culture, way of life and heritage of Turkish Cypriots,” the group said.

The leader of the leftist opposition Republican Turkish Party Tufan Erhurman called the deal a “protocol for the abandonment of the will” of Turkish Cypriots to self govern.