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AFP
March 3, 2011
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Turkish Cypriots hold protest

Sports

AFP
March 3, 2011

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NICOSIA: Thousands of Turkish Cypriots marched on Wednesday against Ankara-inspired spending cuts as mounting dissent strained ties with Turkey and threatened to hit reunification talks with Greek Cypriots.
More than 25,000 protesters, angry about what they believe are efforts by Turkey to exert more control over the isolated statelet, gathered at Inonu Square inside ancient Venetian walls in the city’s northern Turkish section in what is believed to be one of the largest demonstrations ever in North Cyprus.
Many waved banners reading, “This is our country, let’s run it ourselves” and “Take your hands off Turkish Cypriots”.
They said an economic austerity package blamed on Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan erodes their ability to govern themselves effectively.
The $4 billion economy of Turkish-held north Cyprus, under a trade embargo since it broke from the internationally recognised Greek-dominated Cypriot republic, relies on some $600 million worth of financial aid Ankara provides annually.
Ankara wants the Turkish Cypriot administration, recognised only by Turkey, to cut its budget deficit and rein in public finances, reducing the vast public sector, slashing salaries and selling loss-making state companies.
“We want to rule ourselves. We don’t have what counts as real sovereignty over this land, even though this is our country,” said Salih Pilli, 64, who is retired.

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