Mustafa Akinci, the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), has released a statement emphasizing that insults and threats on social media over his recent criticism of the ongoing Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria are “unfair.”
“Since when is defending peace is a crime? What would one gain by accusing and defaming those who demand it?” Akinci said in a written statement on Monday.
The leader received the condemnation of senior officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) after criticizing Turkey’s military offense in northeast Syria entitled “Operation Peace Spring” that was launched on Wednesday.
Ankara stated that the operation is intended to clear the region off the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Turkey views as a security threat along its border, and carve out a “safe zone” to resettle Syrian refugees.
The YPG is designated by Ankara as a terrorist organization, an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants that have been fighting against state forces in Turkey for more than three decades.
The Turkish-Cypriot leader on Saturday night accused Turkey in a Facebook post of waging a war in northeastern Syria through an operation called “Peace Spring.”
“Even though we called the offensive in 1974 Operation Peace, it was a war and blood was spilled. Now, even if we say Operation Peace Spring, what is being spilled is not water, it is blood,” Akinci argued, referring to Turkey’s Cyprus Peace Operation.
“For this reason, it is my greatest wish that dialogue and diplomacy come into play as soon as possible,” he advised.
Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974 aimed to oppose a Greek nationalist coup that aimed to unite the island with mainland Greece.
In the aftermath of the invasion of Turkey, Cyprus was and remains split between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkey has maintained a military presence in the northern part of the island since then.
A number of social media users reportedly insulted and threatened Akinci following his remarks about Turkey’s recent incursion into Syria.
Among those who reacted to Akinci’s criticism on social media were Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay and AKP Spokesperson Omer Celik.
“The statement made by Akıncı as a President today is lacking history awareness and knowledge. I believe that this unfortunate statement does not reflect the opinion of the Turkish Cypriots,” Oktay said in a tweet on Sunday.
Akıncı’nın bugün Cumhurbaşkanı sıfatı ile yaptığı açıklama tarih bilinci ve bilgisi yoksun bir açıklamadır. Bu talihsiz açıklamanın Kıbrıs Türkü'nün görüşünü yansıtmadığına inanıyorum.
— Fuat Oktay (@fuatoktay) October 13, 2019
Emphasizing that the language Akinci used was “imprudent” and “disrespectful,” Celik added: “The Cyprus Operation Peace was an operation against a murder network and it established peace. Operation Peace Spring is also the fight against terrorism we carry out against a murder network.”
Kıbrıs Barış Harekatı bir cinayet şebekesine karşı yapılmış ve barışı tesis etmiş bir harekattır. Barış Pınarı Harekatı da bir cinayet şebekesine karşı yürüttüğümüz terörle mücadeledir. Bu mücadelelerde kim yanımızda durdu, kim karşımızda durdu, unutmadık, unutmayacağız.
— Ömer Çelik (@omerrcelik) October 13, 2019