The Greek Cypriot Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy, Christos Stylianides, raised lots of eyebrows with a statement made in parliament on Tuesday evening wherein he said that “half of Cyprus is already Turkish”.

Mr Stylianides, who was born and raised in Nicosia, was addressing the rumoured Cypriot candidacy for the position of secretary-general of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Greece is supporting a Turkish candidate for the same role which is supposedly in exchange for Turkey backing Greece’s candidacy to sit on the United Nations’ Security Council.

Speaking in parliament, Stylianides said that Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides had never made an application for a Cypriot running for the IMO position, who himself said last year that Cyprus would have “no issue” if a Turkish candidate was elected into the role.

“There has never been any disagreement on the part of the Cypriot presidency regarding the Greek government’s handling [of the matter]. We are talking about the battles Hellenism is facing,” Mr Stylianides said.

“I was lucky enough to be a [Cypriot] government representative in a period in which I helped Hellenism fight its biggest battle, for Cyprus to join the European Union. There was absolute harmony in all the actions we carried out,” Mr Stylianides said, who is a former Cyprus government spokesperson.

The Greek Minister went on to add that he does not wish to see tensions result in physical conflicts as in the past.

“If some are implying another type of battle like the battles fought by the junta in which half of Cyprus was lost, then I am against it. Because I grew up [with the] Green Line and I know what it means for battles to be fought just for the sake of fake battles,” he said.

“Because Hellenism has no more margin [for error] in Cyprus. Half of Cyprus is already Turkish,” he said.

This comment garnered reactions from Greek and Cypriot politicians and parties, with far-right Ελληνική Λύση (Greek Solution) party MP Kostas Hitas saying he had been “left speechless” and left wing Course of Freedom party leader Zoe Konstantopoulou demanding a retraction.

Stylianides clarified his position by saying it “in exactly the same words, has been put forth many times in the Cypriot parliament without garnering any reactions”.

“Some thought that I had ceded half of Cyprus to Turkey, for God’s sake. Those who know me know how I fight for my homeland,” he said.

Leader of Cyprus’ Diko party Nikolas Papadopoulos, in a post on X, described Stylianides’ statements as “unacceptable. Unacceptable twice because he said what he said in the Greek parliament.”

Cyprus’ EDEK party then added on Wednesday the following comment: “Half of Cyprus is not Turkish, Mr Stylianides, and we will not allow it to be Turkified through the ‘solutions’ you favour”.