In likely another undercutting of hopes to reunify Cyprus more than 45 years after Turkey invaded and occupied the northern third of the island, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi said his country will keep its 35,000-strong standing army there as a guarantor power.
Greece is also a guarantor of security for Cyprus but doesn’t keep troops there as there’s also a United Nations peacekeeping force along with the other legal protector, the United Kingdom, the former Colonial ruler which still has military bases on the island.
Akar, who visited Turkish troops on the islan, said that when Turkey talks of peace, the Greeks see it as weakness, while when Turkey says it will not accept faits accomplis, Greece sees it as a threat, said Kathimerini.
“So our neighbors should gather their mind and see matters objectively,” he said, adding that Turkey’s views about Cyprus have been the same since 1974 and after Turkish officials had warned they were ready to invade again if pushed too far.
Despite the belligerent talk he said Turkey wants good relations with Cyprus – which it doesn’t recognize while barring its ship and planes even though it’s a member of the European Union that Turkey has been trying to join since 2005.
Adding to the tension, Turkey has two drillships hunting for energy in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which it also doesn’t recognize and there’s worry there could be a conflict after the United States said the waters belong to Cyprus.
The legitimate government has licensed foreign companies, including American energy giant ExxonMobil to look for oil and gas in the region. A Turkish warship is nearby protecting its countries drillships while the US Sixth Fleet is in the region as well.