An investigation into allegations of Turkey meddling in the 2020 elections for the Turkish Cypriot leader has revealed alarming details of the pressure on incumbent Mustafa Akinci as well as other candidates and journalists, according to Turkish Cypriot journalist Esra Aygin.
In a blog post uploaded on Thursday evening, Aygin, who was herself the target of pressure from the new Turkish Cypriot regime, described the exposures about threats, pressure and extortion as “shocking”.
Aygin said a report by a team of civil society officials, lawyers and researchers outlined “blatant Ankara interference” in favor of hardliner Ersin Tatar, who ousted Akinci with 51.69 percent of the vote.
Since his election, Tatar has changed the position of the Turkish Cypriot side from a federal solution pursued by Akinci to a two-state solution in line with Ankara’s position.
According to Aygin, Akinci told the reporters in the investigation that a team from the Turkish secret service MIT conducted the elections on behalf of Tatars. Akinci’s private secretary, Cenk Gurcag, was invited to a meeting with MIT officials. According to the report, MIT officials told Gurcag, “The enemy is at the door. We need people who love Turkey, who will not betray Turkey, who will work with Turkey to run this place. We don’t want Akinci here. He won’t win. We’ll make sure he doesn’t win. Even if he does, nothing will be the same. We know everything about the people who are close to him. We know every breath they take … “
The MIT official continued, “I ask you to convey Akinci. It will be best for him, his family and close colleagues to withdraw his candidacy. Tell him to post this on Facebook tonight. We come from the very top. Nobody and nothing is more important than the survival of Turkey. “
Aygin reports that after Akinci heard about this, he summoned the Turkish ambassador, but the latter refused, saying he had orders from Ankara. He reportedly told Akinci that the incumbent’s positions did not coincide with Turkey’s.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan reportedly encouraged right-wing parties to agree on a common candidate to oust Akinci in a further attempt to remove Akinci from the race. The gap between the two became apparent in public as barbs were regularly exchanged for some time in the run-up to the elections in the north. They even argued over Turkey’s approach in Syria.
According to Aygin, the journalist and head of the Turkish Cypriot journalists’ association BASIN-SEN Ali Kismir told investigators that he had been invited to a meeting with a team from Turkey. “They told me they were the ambassadors of the Republic of Turkey,” Kismir is quoted in the report.
The team said to Kismir, “We are here to make sure Akinci is not elected. He is not elected. This man is a US agent. This man is an enemy of Turkey. This man cooperates with the Greek Cypriots. “
Kismir was also told to convey this message to Akinci: “If Akinci is elected, very bad things will happen to him. So he should take off, buy his ticket and fuck off to the USA. We know he has a Greek son-in-law. We know what his daughter is up to … In the interests of the future of Turkey and TRNC, Akinci should not be elected. If he is elected, very bad things will happen. Something is going to happen to him. We don’t know what that could be. He’s only sitting there symbolically anyway. His mandate has ended. “
Kismir was also told that a “list” of Turkey’s enemies would be drawn up after the election, but he was told his name would be removed if he withdrew his support for Akinci, Aygin said. About 50 journalists were reportedly notified in the same way, and several others who were interviewed had similar stories to tell.