Turkish Cyprus demands military deal with UN
Ömer Bilge - NICOSIA
If the U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) does not make an agreement with Turkish Cyprus within a month, it will have to withdraw from its two camps on the north side, the country’s top diplomat has said.
“The hospitality is over, either they sign a military agreement with Turkish Cyprus or they withdraw from it,” Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu told daily Hürriyet, adding that the UNFICYP, which has two camps and a contact point on the north side, “works with the permission of the Greeks.”
Stating that he met with Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Deputy Secretary General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix during the New York visit, Ertuğruloğlu said they presented the draft of a status of forces agreement (SOFA) to the U.N.
“They said they would respond as soon as possible, but we gave an extra month. We, as Turkish Cyprus, clearly say to them that it is not the Greek government, we are the authority that will approve them to serve in the territory of Turkish Cyprus,” Ertuğruloğlu said.
If the answer is negative, the Turkish side “will never shy away from the steps it needs to take,” he said.
New steps for the recognition of the Turkish side will be taken, he added.
Noting that this move was made in solidarity with Türkiye, Ertuğruloğlu said, “President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call at the U.N. in New York to recognize Turkish Cyprus and lift the embargoes was a historic step.”
A SOFA is an agreement between a host country and a foreign nation stationing military forces in that country. SOFAs are often included, along with other types of military agreements, as part of a comprehensive security arrangement.
The UNFICYP, consisting of more than 1,000 soldiers and civil servants from 19 countries, controls a 346 square kilometer area called the “Green Line,” created on the 180 kilometer border between the Turkish and Greek sides of the island.
It has two camps on the north side, one in Famagusta and the other in Lefke, while it also has a contact point in the capital Nicosia, near Ledra Palace.
In July, the Foreign Ministry slammed a resolution by the U.N. Security Council on the extension of the UNFICYP’s mandate for a period of six months as violating the inherent rights of the Turkish Cypriots on the island.
The resolution is, as always, disconnected from the reality, unfair and unjust again, the ministry stressed.