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Turkish Deputy PM Says Greek Cypriots Trying to Damage Ties Between Turkey and Turkish Cypriots

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek blamed Wednesday Greek Cypriots for trying to damage fraternal ties between Turkey and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, TRNC, in an effort hold Turkey and TRNC responsible for a possible deadlock in Cyprus reunification talks.

In a demonstration to protest austerity measures late January, a group of Turkish Cypriots, which the Turkish government believes have links to Greek Cyprus, chanted anti-Turkey slogans, asking the country not to interfere in their affairs. "Ankara, we don't want your money or [austerity]
package," protesters wrote on banners.

"Those people swear at us, at Turkey, saying [take your money and leave]; but one day later they do not hesitate to take the money we sent," Cicek told news broadcaster NTV in an interview.

"There is a clear defamation here. A group of irresponsible pro-Greek Cypriot people were in efforts to drive a wedge between Turkey and the people of TRNC, exploiting other groups who took part in protests. We should not fall into this trap. Negotiations are under way in the island. Greek Cypriot side wants to drag out these negotiations. They do not want to be a part of solution. They have been exerting great efforts inside and outside to hold Turkey and TRNC responsible for a deadlock," Cicek, who is also the Turkish government spokesman, said.

Cicek said global financial downturn had effects on TRNC too, but added that TRNC's economy had structural problems in addition to these problems which he said was "very serious" and needs austerity measures.

"Although Turkey's contributions, TRNC's income and expenditure accounts are not equal. There is a big gap. An austerity package is a must," Cicek said.

Turkey pledged to extend a financial assistance of 880 million Turkish lira to North Cyprus in 2011. 350 million TL of the assistance will be used to close the budget deficit.

Cicek said it was impossible for TRNC, recognized only by Turkey in the world, to borrow money from any country else; so, he said, it has to take measures to reduce expenditures.

Cicek also said that Turkish government was very unhappy with Turkish Cypriot government's silent attitude against protests.

"Someone directs insults at me in front of my brothers and I cannot see any reaction from them. It is just like this," he said.

"What Turkey did wrong about TRNC is that it allowed a sluggish structure there," Cicek added.

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