Turkish GP awards ceremony angers Cyprus

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Cyprus will complain to FIA over the awards ceremony at the Turkish Grand Prix.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:36 IST
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Nicosia, Cyprus:

Cyprus will complain to FIA over the awards ceremony at the Turkish Grand Prix. Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat handed the winner's prize to Ferrari driver Felipe Massa on Sunday. Nicosia was angered by organisers introducing Talat as president of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state - which only Turkey recognises - in the north of this war-divided island. Government spokesman Christodoulos Passiardis accused Turkish officials of exploiting a sporting event for political gain, and "tricking" FIA, the international governing body of racing. "The Cypriot government will denounce this unacceptable and provocative piece of theater Ankara staged, and will ask the FIA to react to this unacceptable deviation," Passiardis said. Turkish organisers acknowledged they had bent the FIA rules on prize-giving, but expressed no regret. "You cannot put a price on such promotion (of the Cyprus cause)," Murat Yalcintas, head of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, told the Anatolia news agency. "The Formula One race was a great opportunity. Cyprus is our national cause." Yalcintas admitted that, according to rules, organisers were obliged to notify the race's governing body on who would be handing the prizes a day before the race. "But as we had Mr. Talat in mind, we delayed giving the notification as much as we could. We gave the information around noon on the day of the race," Yalcintas said. Passiardis said the Cypriot automobile association - an FIA member - will also lodge a complaint. Cyprus has been divided into a Greek Cypriot south, representing the island's internationally recognised government, and a Turkish Cypriot north since a Turkish invasion in 1974 that followed a failed coup by supporters of union with Greece. (AP)

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