Turkey Plans Naval Base On Occupied Part of Cyprus

Αssociated Press

FILE - Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci review a military honor guard during Erdogan's arrival in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of Cyprus' divided capital Nicosia, on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Hopes to reunify Cyprus took a hit when Turkey said it will build a naval base in the northern third of the island it has occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion, likely setting back hopes of reopening negotiations.

Talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they would never remove a 30,000-strong standing army and wanted the right to militarily intervene.

That led Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to walk away but he’s said he would be willing to talk again if Turkey follows United Nations guidelines - and gives up its military demands, seeing instead an escalation with the plans for the Naval base.

Those were reported by the Yeni Safak newspaper that is tied to Erdogan, who gained near-dictatorial powers when re-elected in June in snap polls he called and as he’s been upping provocations in the Aegean, including having warships trying to keep foreign energy companies from drilling for oil and gas in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The paper, said the Turkish Navy has already submitted a request to the Foreign Ministry to begin procedures to find an “appropriate” spot on the island to build the base.

The paper said the base was necessary as other countries – including the United Kingdom,, US, Spain, Italy, Canada, Denmark, Portugal, Belgium, Germany and Greece – are using the war in Syria as a pretext to maintain a presence in the East Mediterranean.

Turkey, along with Greece and the UK, the former Colonial ruler which also has a military base on Cyprus, are guarantors of security for the island.