Turkey urges neutrality from third parties on Cyprus question

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar on Monday called for third parties to remain objective and neutral on the question of the ethnically-divided island of Cyprus and urged for the recognition of the rights of Turkish Cypriots.

Akar made the remarks during a ceremony marking Armed Forces Day in Ankara, Türkiye newspaper reported.

“Our expectation from the third parties is to be objective and neutral on the Cyprus issue, abandon strategic blindness, pursue an equal approach towards the Turkish Cypriots and pledge their rights,” the country’s top defence official said.

Cyprus has been divided since a July 20,1974 Turkish military intervention in response to a brief Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the Mediterranean island with Greece. 

Turkey justified the invasion by citing its rights to protect Turkish Cypriots. But the island has remained divided between the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is only recognised as a state by Turkey. The Greek Cypriot-governed Republic of Cyprus controls the southern two-thirds of the island, and the TRNC, where Turkey still keeps about 30,000 troops, the northern third.

“Greek Cypriots should realize the realities, see the Turkish presence and recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Turkish presence. They should acknowledge their right to live in security and prosperity,” Akar said.

Turkey has fulfilled its responsibility as a guarantor state and will continue to do so, Akar said, adding that Ankara would never allow the violation of  Turkey or the TRNC in the Aegean, eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus.

Turkey has been engaged in long-time dispute with Greece and Greek Cyprus over overlapping territorial claims in the Mediterranean and Aegean, as well as Cyprus.

“Nobody should interpret our calls for dialogue as weakness and not see our statements regarding not allowing the violation of our rights’ as a threat. Turkey will continue to stand with its Cypriots brothers in their rightful cause,” Akar said.

Last year, after a five-year hiatus, the Turkey and Greece resumed talks to address their differences in the Mediterranean Sea and other bilateral issues, but the talks have failed to yield progress with tensions heightening between Ankara and Athens.

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