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Turkey, Turkish-Cypriots Angry Over Flag Burning On Cyprus

Αssociated Press

FILE - Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP)

NICOSIA- The burning of a Turkish flag by Cypriot students upset over the 45-year-long occupation of the northern third of the island has drawn outrage from Turkey and Turkish-Cypriots about a demonstration in which the protesters reportedly chanted: “Greek blood flowing in Cyprus, we will not give the Turks a centimeter.”

Turkish-Cypriot leader condemned the burning of the Turkish-Cypriot flag on Nov. 16, saying that, “Another mistake has been added to the often-repeated mistakes of this organization, which does not tolerate and respect Cyprus’ equal partner Turkish Cypriots and their symbols,” the Turkish newspaper The Hurriyet Daily News reported. The protest was carried out by students tied to ELAM, an extreme-right nationalist offshoot of Greece's fading neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party that was voted out of power in July 7 snap elections, with its hierarchy and dozens of members on charges of running a criminal gang and one charged with the murder of anti-Fascist hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas in 2013.

Noting the group's background, Akinci said that, “It is clear that ELAM, which transcends hate speech and acts as an act of hate, serves the hostility that it feeds politically. It is worrying that there have still been no lessons learned from such hate and violent actions that have filled Cyprus’ past with pain,” he noted. “Our island does not need to fill the minds of young people with hate. Hate is a heavy burden for both Cyprus and humanity,” he added.

The self-declared deputy prime minister of the occupied territory, Kudret Ozersay, said he had met with the Turkish Cypriot law enforcement and judicial authorities about the flag-burning incident. “Those who do not respect the flag and similar symbols and values of those who are different from them are those who have not received their share of civilization,” Ozersay said, as Turkey's Foreign Ministry also denounced the act.

"The fact that the Greek Cypriots have neither made any statement condemning this act of hatred nor have investigated the perpetrators, demonstrates that this act has official support behind," said the ministry in a statement.

"We believe that the Greek Cypriot Administration, as well as the Greek authorities, with their statements provoking hatred towards the Turkish Cypriots, have a responsibility in this incident," said the ministry in a statement," it added.

In a written statement, ELAM said that it was “once again in the crosshairs of the occupying authorities, proving for the umpteenth time, beyond doubt, that on this island the only problem is Turkey,” the party said, the paper reported.