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Opinion - We Support Afrika Newspaper Reaction to Bagis Annexation Comment

In the interests of press solidarity, this publication supports Afrika newspaper's statement against Egemen Bagis' provocative 'annexation' comments. The outspoken editor of Afrika newspaper Sener Levent has told Turkey's EU affairs minister Egemen Bagis exactly what he thinks about the idea of Turkey annexing north Cyprus with the front page title 'Has*tir', which basically translates into 'go screw yourself' (and that is putting it politely). supports Afrika's statement on the grounds that Turkey has no place keeping its occupation troops on an island that does not belong to it, but instead, belongs to the people of Cyprus - Greek-and-Turkish Cypriots and other communities like the Maronites or Latins that are native to the country and live here legally. Turkey also has no right to interfere with the Turkish-Cypriot community or use it for its own ends.

This goes doubly so because Sener Levent and other journalists in north Cyprus have had their lives threatened by extremist nationalists who are encouraged by such statements coming from Turkey. Car bombs, package bombs, would-be murderers wielding guns in Afrika's offices, these are all realities for the press in north Cyprus. It is unacceptable - freedom of the press and of expression are essential to a real democracy, and Turkey has been criticised many, many times about its repressive attitude towards journalists. Does Bagis think that the press in this country would simply accept Turkey's annexation ideas? Their answer is above.

Cyprus is an independent country and has been since 1960. Greek-Cypriot, Turkish-Cypriot, English-Cypriot, Swedish-Cypriot, whatever - we are citizens of an independent country. The problems between the Greek-and-Turkish Cypriots can be solved, peace talks have proved that much can be achieved with goodwill on both sides.

Not only is Turkey illegally occupying Cyprus, but it is actively interfering with Cypriot-led peace talks. Bagis' comments are completely out of place and the Turkish government should be thinking of ways to get themselves back into the EU's good graces instead of threatening this tiny island any further.

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