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Politics

Turkey to Sen. Menendez: Troops Will Stay on Cyprus Forever

September 6, 2021

Turkey had told U.S. Sen Bob Menendez what it has told everyone else about its occupation of the northern third of Cyprus since 1974: a 35,000-strong standing army there will never leave. Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who heads the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations and is a strong friend of Greece and Cyprus, said it was his wish to see Turkish troops off the island. But Omer Celik, spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP party, told a meeting of its central committee that, “Bob Menendez will not see Turkish soldiers leave Cyprus.

He will not be able to see it. He’s dreaming wrong,” reported Kathimerini. Menendez made his statement while on Cyprus to meet President Nicos Anastasiades, saying he was opposed to Erdogan’s insistence that the world recognize the occupied territory and demanding two separate states there. Celik described the Turkish army as the “guarantor of peace” on Cyprus although the last round of reunification talks in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana fell apart when Erdogan and then-Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci saying they wanted to use them for another invasion if they wanted.

“They are not there for nothing. Everyone knows very well why the Turkish armed forces went there, as part of the Peace Operation (Turkey's invasion) and what their presence there means today,” he said. “To say that the Turkish armed forces must withdraw from there means that the Greek-Cypriots will occupy Cyprus,” he continued. Menendez “expressed a wish that will never come true,” Celik also said.

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