GC's blasted for attacking Dutch MP's TRNC tweet
Taken from this week's issue.
By Halil ELTAN
Liane den Haan was subjected to barrage of criticism this week after sharing a photo of herself meeting Tourism and Environment Minister Fikri Ataoğlu at his office.
She said the pair had an “informal” and “interesting meeting” and that they talked about “tourism in North Cyprus and how hard it is during the Covid pandemic”. She also added the hashtags “KKTC” (TRNC) and “Kıbrıs” (Cyprus).
The tweet sparked hundreds of replies. Among those angered was the South’s finance minister Constantinos Petrides, who wrote: “Informally speaking, you are a disgrace for the institution you represent, its formal policy, and the European values. You stand for ethnic cleansing and occupation.”
Another Greek Cypriot politician, Emily Yiolitis, replied: “And you are a member of a parliament of an EU state? Visiting an illegally occupied territory which rightfully belongs to an EU state? For lack of better words, WTF.”
Turkish Cypriots rushed to defend Ms Den Haan. Kerem Haser, a press officer for President Ersin Tatar, wrote: “Thank you for lending an ear to the Turkish Cypriots. We are the real victims of the Cyprus issue.
“Turkish Cypriots are co-owners of Cyprus with inherent sovereign equality rights. We exist. Start direct trade and travel. The EU failed in their pledges made during the Annan plan.”
A group called the Young Turkish Cypriots replied: “Thank you for visiting our country and not falling victim to the racial abuse we constantly receive from Greek Cypriots.
“[We] Turkish Cypriots are humans too. We have sovereign equality and are indigenous to the island of Cyprus. Our 58-year long isolation must come to an end.”
In a separate post on Facebook Ms Den Haan shared a photo of Girne harbour with messages in Dutch and Turkish that read: “North Cyprus is the most special place for me to rest. Love, friendship, the delicious food, the hospitality of people. . . This is where my heart is at home.”
Asked by Cyprus Today to comment on the criticism she received, Ms Den Haan said: “I have been visiting the island for many years now to have a vacation with my family and to visit friends. This visit to the minister was a friendly and informal visit as a private person.
“I did not report the comments on Twitter because everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion.” She added that she does not own a property in the TRNC.
Yesterday Mr Ataoğlu, the Presidency and the Foreign Ministry issued statements defending Liane den Haan’s visit and slamming those who attacked her.
Mr Ataoğlu said that it has been “impossible to reach a solution on the Cyprus issue for years because of this mentality” and that the “Greek Cypriot and Greek political authorities continue to pursue a policy far from humanitarian values”.
Noting that he was pleased with the “friendly and courteous visit” of Ms Den Haan, Mr Ataoğlu continued:
“I would like to reiterate that it will be a great honour and pleasure to see Ms Den Haan in our country again.
“At the same time, I repeat my friendly call to the Greek Cypriot and Greek political authorities and would like to send a message that we will be pleased to host them in our country.
“Especially due to the pandemic, I believe that it would be a great opportunity to remember human values, cooperation and unity.”
A statement from President Tatar’s office said the criticism of Ms Den Haan by Greek Cypriots represented a “new manifestation of their outdated mentality”.
“We condemn these statements made with disregard to diplomatic courtesy rules and the mentality behind them,” it said.
“In order not to reveal the truth in achieving their racist and domineering ambitions, the Greek Cypriot side tries to prevent international meetings with Turkish Cypriots with an understanding that is far from the culture of reconciliation and violates human rights almost every day.
“The latest victim of this understanding was Dutch MP Haan. Those who cannot tolerate Turkish Cypriots even meeting with any foreign official, explain with their answer why the Cyprus issue has been unresolved for more than 50 years.”
The Foreign Ministry said: “We strongly condemn the improper statements made by the Greek Cypriot officials . . . We would like to remind [Mr] Petrides, who has made unfounded allegations regarding the visit of Ms Liane den Haan, that it is the Greek Cypriot side which ousted the Turkish Cypriot people, as the equal co-founder partner of the 1960 Republic of Cyprus, from the partnership republic by force of arms and usurped and occupied its offices as well as subjected our people to ethnic cleansing between 1963-1974.
“The said statements of the Greek Cypriot officials are not only a new manifestation of their efforts to sanitise the eleven-year long atrocities they had inflicted on the Turkish Cypriot people and their disgrace in the history, but also disclose the mindset of the Greek Cypriot political elites seeing the Turkish Cypriot People as a minority.”