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Northern Cyprus, Turkiye slam hosting of Kurdish militia office in Greek Cyprus

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Tahsin Ertugruloglu in Ankara, Turkey on 11 January 2021 [Aytaç Ünal/Anadolu Agency]
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Tahsin Ertugruloglu in Ankara, Turkey on 11 January 2021 [Aytaç Ünal/Anadolu Agency]

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has condemned the Greek Cypriot government for allowing a Kurdish militant group to open a representative office in the Nicosia, the capital of southern Cyprus.

Reports this week by Cypriot media revealed that the 'Cypriot-Kurdish Solidarity Association' was established in Nicosia on 12 January, enabling the Democratic Union Party (PYD) – the civilian and political arm of the Syrian Kurdish militant group, the Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) – to open its representative office.

According to a report by the Cypriot news outlet Philenews, the press conference that announced the association's establishment was attended by PYD representative Yassin Tabrous and a member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) – a designated terrorist group – named Cerkes Korkmaz.

In a statement issued today, the TRNC's foreign minister Tahsin Ertugruloglu warned that "Greek Cyprus must know that it's playing with fire". He said that he was not surprised to see "murderers in cooperation," referring to previous reports of the YPG and Cyprus's cooperation and ties.

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Ertugruloglu claimed that the head of the PYD's representative office, Korkmaz, has "manifested the Greek Cyprus administration's support to the group by praising its assistance to the terrorists in the past," adding that "We already knew that they were cooperating but they have now made it official."

The minister warned Greek Cyprus of the consequences of hosting a group affiliated with a designated terrorist organisation, saying "they have to know what's coming to them".

The Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu issued a similar condemnation in televised comments, also saying that the Greek Cypriot government is "playing with fire by allowing terror groups to open offices, or hosting them".

Cavusoglu stressed that any outstanding issues could be resolved through diplomacy and talks, but that the hosting of the PYD office is a security threat to Turkiye and the TRNC, and will not be tolerated. "This is directly linked to security," he said. "We would treat this as we do in any other country where there is a presence of terrorists. When there is an attack on us, there would be a heavy cost."

Ankara has long held the YPG, and subsequently the PYD, to be the Syrian branch of the PKK and has launched numerous operations against the militia in northern Syria. Although that link has not yet been fully admitted to or officially announced, evidence of direct affiliations between the Kurdish militias across the borders has been brought up over the years.

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