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Turkey rebukes newly-elected Turkish Cypriot leader for suggesting treatment as an equal

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's president on Monday rebuked the newly elected leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state for suggesting that Turkey should deal with northern Cyprus as an equal.

Mustafa Akinci, who has pledged to focus his energy on achieving an accord reunifying Cyprus, was elected president on Sunday. He says he favors a relationship "between brothers" with Turkey — not one where the "motherland" dictates terms.

In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey finances northern Cyprus' budget, has made sacrifices for it, and will continue to consider it as its "child."

"Do his ears hear what comes out of his mouth?" Erdogan asked.

PHOTO: A supporter of Turkish Cypriot newly elected leader Mustafa Akinci celebrates his win as waves a Turkish flag during the Turkish Cypriots election in Nicosia in the Turkish Cypriot breakaway north part of the divided island of Cyprus, Sunday, April 26, 2015. Akinci, a veteran politician with a strong track record of reaching out to rival Greek Cypriots, was elected as leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots in ethnically divided Cyprus. Akinci defeated hard-line incumbent Dervis Eroglu with 60.38 percent of the vote, preliminary official results showed. Turnout for Sunday's vote was just over 64 percent. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A supporter of Turkish Cypriot newly elected leader Mustafa Akinci celebrates his win as waves a Turkish flag during the Turkish Cypriots election in Nicosia in the Turkish Cypriot breakaway north part of the divided island of Cyprus, Sunday, April 26, 2015. Akinci, a veteran politician with a strong track record of reaching out to rival Greek Cypriots, was elected as leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots in ethnically divided Cyprus. Akinci defeated hard-line incumbent Dervis Eroglu with 60.38 percent of the vote, preliminary official results showed. Turnout for Sunday's vote was just over 64 percent. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Akinci, who was being interviewed live on CNN-Turk television as Erdogan spoke, responded: "Does Turkey not want to see the child grow?"

He then cut the interview short, saying he had to take a telephone call from Erdogan.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of uniting the island with Greece.

Akinci's election has revived hopes for the reunification talks next month, but any deal would require cooperation from Turkey.

Earlier, Erdogan issued a message congratulating Akinci on his victory but also warning that Turkey would not accept an approach for a solution for Cyprus "that would come at any cost."

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PHOTO: Turkish Cypriot newly elected leader Mustafa Akinci with his wife Miral wave to his supporters after he won the leadership election in Nicosia in the Turkish Cypriot breakaway north part of the divided island of Cyprus, Sunday, April 26, 2015. Akinci, a veteran politician with a strong track record of reaching out to rival Greek Cypriots, was elected as leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots in ethnically divided Cyprus. Akinci defeated hard-line incumbent Dervis Eroglu with 60.38 percent of the vote, preliminary official results showed. Turnout for Sunday's vote was just over 64 percent. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
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