Nikolaos Stelya / DUVAR
In recent weeks, a row has erupted between pro-government and opposition figures in Turkish Cyprus around the construction of a $568 million Turkish Lira government mega-complex on the island. Now, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, a close ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said that the new Presidential Complex is a “must,” condemning critics.
This summer, plans for new Presidential and Parliamentary buildings in Nicosia were revealed by Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Erdoğan lauded the plans for the new “külliye” as “good news” for the Turkish Cypriot people. In a visit to the Island to mark the 47th anniversary of the Turkish intervention on the Island this summer, Erdoğan said the building was necessary and that the current facilities did not “suit” Turkish Cyprus.
The plan has drawn the ire of the opposition for a range of reasons. Primarily, the Turkish Cypriot opposition says that such an expense is unnecessary in the current economic crisis, which has hit Cypriots particularly hard given that many goods and services on the island are priced in Euro. They say that the money could be better spent to help the Turkish Cypriot people to fight both the financial crisis and the pandemic.
Further, many have criticized the buildings that will be in the complex. The Presidential Palace, which would be Tatar’s residence, is larger than the Parliamentary building, and there is also a large mosque and “national gardens.”
“It is completely irresponsible to attempt this [project] during a period in which an economic crisis is being experienced. It is very obvious that nothing will come to the country from administrators having this mentality,” left-wing Republican Turkish Party (CTP) lawmaker Özdil Nami said in a social media post about the plans.
Now, Tatar has called this kind of language “poisonous language that is unfair, transgressed, and adorned with manipulation.” This has only further stoked the opposition. Tufan Erhürman, Chairman of the main opposition Republican Turkish Party, criticized the response to criticism, saying it was reasonable to question such a large project given Turkey’s economic circumstances. Further, he said the language Tatar used was inappropriate.
“We don't like such a political language around here, Mr. Tatar,” he said.
The Turkish Cypriot leadership, in their response, said that these buildings were necessary to protect Turkish Cypriot sovereignty on the island.