Yigit Bulut, chief adviser to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, said the northern part of Cyprus should be made Turkey’s 82nd province, prompting a strong reaction from Turkish Cypriots.
Speaking on Turkish state television, TRT, Bulut, Erdogan’s chief economic adviser, questioned the fate of “illegally established” Republic of Cyprus, once Turkey’s EU accession process was over.
Bulut said: “Are we going to raise an EU flag in Cyprus and go there with a Schengen visa? The souls of our martyrs will not forgive us.”
He clarified that he was speaking in a personal capacity
“The TRNC should be made a province of Turkey. It is an overseas province of Turkey. It can have a licence plate and a governor. There is a president, a prime minister, and a parliament there and Turkey is paying the expenses.”
Bulut also claimed that it was Turkey that provided water and electricity to the Greek Cypriots living on the island.
His comments caused an uproar among Turkish Cypriots and some Turkish immigrants living in the north.
The Turkish Cypriot leader’s spokesman, Baris Burcu, said Bulut’s comments should not be taken seriously, considering the factual mistakes, but when his position is taken into account, it was something that could not be ignored.
Burcu said the aim of the Turkish Cypriots was to find a solution in Cyprus and if this was not possible, then the “TRNC will develop and continue its own path.”
The spokesman said describing the north as an overseas province was an insult to the Turkish Cypriots and the term had no place in modern Turkey; it was invalid and something left in the depths of Ottoman history.
Burcu said people with official titles should refrain from making statements that will harm the feelings of solidarity and brotherhood between two countries which have historic and cultural ties.
Harsh words were directed towards Bulut on social media. In a Facebook post, Leader of People’s Party (HP), Kudret Özersay, said that the language used by Bulut was creating antagonism between the Turkish Cypriots and Turks and added “We will not allow you to make this place a province of Turkey.”
Commenting on Bulut on his social media account, Republican Turkish Party (CTP) Chairman Turfan Erhurman said what the chief adviser said was pushing the limits of patience and tolerance.
“Playing with the sensitivities of the Turkish Cypriots is no one’s right and place. The kindness of Turkish Cypriots should not be misunderstood,” Erhurman said.
Kutlay Erk, former mayor of Nicosia Turkish Municipality told Bulut: “You protect the licence plate of the eastern provinces of Turkey, the Turkish Cypriots can take care of themselves.”
CTP MP Erkut Sahali said “If this birdbrain is speaking his mind, his owner should shut him up. If he’s talking on behalf of his owner, then he should be quite and let his owner talk. Thus, we can decide what we are to say.”