NICOSIA – With Turkey keeping a 30,000-man army in unlawfully occupied territory, Cyprus has responded with one of the world’s largest paramilitary corps.
A study by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC) found Cyprus has the seventh-highest level of militarization as decades of diplomatic attempts to unify the island split since an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion have failed utterly.
The Global Militarisation Index (GMI) presents on an annual basis the relative weight and importance of a country’s military apparatus in relation to its society as a whole.
Cyprus is the third most highly-militarized behind another Turkish adversary, Armenia, and also Russia, trying to regain its status as a superpower.
The other countries in the top 10 list are Israel, Singapore, Armenia, Jordan, South Korea, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kuwait and Greece, which has constant tension with Turkey as well, including frequent violations of air space by Turkish fighter jets.
“Greece and Cyprus still rank high in the GMI when it comes to strikingly high levels of militirization. A key factor here is probably the enduring perceptions of a threat posed by Turkey,” the report said.
“Even the leftist SYRIZA government (in Greece) has apparently not fundamentally called this view into question. Although Greece has been forced to make major cuts in its defence budget over the last few years, the numbers show that there are still 13.5 soldiers and paramilitaries per 1,000 inhabitants.”
The report adds: “In contrast, the figure for physicians came to just 4.3. Moreover, Greece has around 1,350 heavy battle tanks, constituting by far the biggest fleet of tanks in Europe.”