Turkey to increase troops in Turkish Cyprus
BAKU- Hande Fırat
Turkey does not have plans to establish a military base in Turkish Cyprus but the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) will increase its deployment of troops there, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 16.
“We will not decrease the number of our soldiers there but on the contrary, we will increase them,” Erdoğan said, speaking to journalists on his route from Azerbaijan to Turkey.
The president elaborated on recent media reports proposed by the TSK to the Foreign Ministry to establish a military base in Turkish Cyprus.
“We do not have a base problem” in Turkish Cyprus, he said, noting that Turkey is very close to the island so there is not a problem in reaching out there.
“It will take only minutes to reach the Mediterranean. But it does not apply to Greece. We do not need to establish a base there,” he said.
The issue is about physiology and Turkey will take such a step if needed in psychological terms, he said.
Erdoğan recalled previous attempts for a resolution in divided Cyprus and blamed Greek Cyprus for rejecting the Annan plan.
“From now on, we will implement the prescription of our own,” the president said.
The Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders, along with the representatives of the guarantor countries, had talks aimed at reunifying the country’s 43-year-long dispute at the United Nations-sponsored discussions, but the latest round of a peace attempt failed in the Swiss Alps in June of last year.
At the meeting, Greek Cypriot negotiators reportedly rejected the presence of Turkish troops on the island—troops deployed there to protect Turkish Cypriots from ethnic violence—and also rejected Turkey’s role under the treaty as a guarantor country for Cyprus.
The island has been divided since 1974 when Turkey intervened into the north after a coup that aimed at unification (enosis) with Greece.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared on Nov. 15, 1983.
Currently, only Turkey recognizes it as an independent state.
The status of the island remains unresolved in spite of a series of peace proposals, including the Annan plan proposed by the United Nations, which Turkish Cypriots accepted in a 2004 referendum, but which failed after being rejected by Greek Cypriot voters.