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James Marketos Calls for US to Force Turkey's Troops Off Cyprus

Αssociated Press

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, FILE)

With Greece and Diaspora groups calling for an end to an arms embargo on Cyprus that Turkey has been able to evade and for Turkey not to get US-made F-35 fighter jets, a Washington man wrote to the Washington Post saying it's not enough.

He said the US should pressure Turkey to get an army off the island where it has unlawfully occupied the northern third since a 1974 invasion that to this day some believe had implicit American support and as the international community looked the other way.

In a letter to the editor of the paper, James Marketos, an attorney based in Washington D.C. wrote in response to an editorial “A Better Way to Use US Leverage” that, If we’re considering ways to increase U.S. leverage over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, why not publicly demand that he remove all Turkish forces from Cyprus?”

Turkey has an army of some 30,000 there and talks to reunify the island collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said the troops would stay “forever,” and as they demanded the right to militarily intervene – invade further if they deemed it so.

Marketos noted that the Turkish Army's presence “has been a persistent stumbling block to resolving the thorny Cyprus problem and that, “the island’s continuing division has given Turkey unjustified pretexts for preventing U.S. companies from exploring and drilling for undersea gas in Cyprus’s territorial waters.”

That was in reference to Turkish warships off the coast trying to keep foreign energy companies from drilling for oil and gas in waters where they are licensed by the legitimate government – a member of the European Union that Turkey wants to join.

The US company, with ships from the US Sixth Fleet nearby earlier this year, was able to get to its field but Turkish ships forced an Italian company energy vessel to veer off under the threat of being sunk.

“Not once since 1974, when the United States deliberately looked the other way as the Turkish army invaded and grabbed one-third of the island, has the United States publicly demanded the withdrawal of the Turkish troops,” Marketos added.

He said it can still be done. “ Doing so now would not only atone for U.S. complicity in causing Cyprus’s division in the first place but also expose the injustice of Turkey’s recent interference with U.S.?commercial interests in the region. The United States can increase its leverage over Mr. Erdogan by announcing publicly that it is time for the Turkish army to leave Cyprus,” he added.