NICOSIA – The self-declared government on the occupied Turkish-Cypriot side of the island said the United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNFICYP) will have to move out of two camps unless a military agreement is reached.
That has to be done within a month, said Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu, who calls himself foreign minister even though no country in the world apart from Turkey recognizes the occupied territory which isn’t in the UN.
“The hospitality is over, either they sign a military agreement with Turkish-Cyprus or they withdraw from it,” he told the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet, adding that the UNFICYP, which has two camps and a contact point on the occupied side, “works with the permission of the Greeks.”
Stating that he met with Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Deputy Secretary General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix in New York, Ertuğruloğlu said a draft of a status of forces agreement (SOFA) was presented.
“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.
That comes amid a more aggressive push by Tatar for the UN and world to recognize the isolated territory with no indication anyone is listening to that demand, apart from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who wants it.
A SOFA is an agreement between a host country and a foreign nation stationing military forces in that country although Turkey, along with Greece and the former Colonial ruler The United Kingdom, which still has military bases there, are guarantors of security for the island.
The UNFICYP, consisting of more than 1,000 soldiers and civil servants from 19 countries, controls a 346-square kilometer (133.6 square-mile) area called the Green Line on the 180 kilometer (111.9-mile) border between the Turkish and Greek sides of the island.
There are two camps on the north side, one in Famagusta and the other in Lefke, while it has a contact point in the capital Nicosia, near Ledra Palace, the forces designed to keep peace.
In July, the Turkish-Cypriot side said it was unhappy with an extension of the UNFICYP’s mandate for six months, saying it violated the rights of the Turkish-Cypriots – but did nothing about it.