Former president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Mustafa Akinci criticised comments made by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the state of the territory’s presidential building.
Prior to his arrival in the TRNC on Monday, Erdogan said that the TRNC lacks a presidential compound and that the executive currently resides in a “shanty house” from the British occupation of Cyprus. He promised that new buildings would be constructed in the TRNC for the president and the parliament as symbols befitting a true nation-state.
“Let’s also make a magnificent national garden there. This is the expression of being a state,” BBC Turkish quoted Erdogan as saying.
This statement was met with criticism from former president Akinci, who lost his re-election bid to the Erdogan-backed incumbent Ersin Tatar. In a post on his Facebook account, Akinci shared an image of the current presidential compound and shared some of its history going back to its initial construction in 1939 and its eventual demolition in 2018 after reports suggested it was not a suitable place to work.
Akinci singled out Erdogan’s remarks by saying new buildings did nothing to show a nation’s true character.
“Undoubtedly, new buildings can be built according to the need, but societies do this by considering their priorities and in accordance with their laws and rules. They do not realize it as someone else’s decision and grace,” wrote Akinci.
“As for the reputation of states, it cannot be measured by the magnificence of their buildings. It is measured by its democracy, its respect for freedoms, human rights, law, for justice as well as by the welfare of his citizens,” he added.
Akinci’s criticism came after opposition parties boycotted Erdogan’s visit to the TRNC out of frustration for what they see as an increasingly overbearing influence being exerted over life on the island.
Erdogan’s visit also coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus that resulted in the TRNC’s birth. President Erdogan as well as other politicians, including those in the Turkish opposition, have called for Cyprus’ division to be made permanent by advocating a two-state solution.
During his visit to the TRNC, Erdogan announced that he would support a reopening of the resort town of Varosha. The announcement met with international outcry but Erdogan insisted he did not care for any of the criticism sent his way.
This position has been opposed by the United States, United Kingdom, United Nations, the European Union and Russia.