“In a further demonstration of Ankara’s longstanding intransigence over Cyprus, President Erdogan recently stated that Turkey will increase its troop presence in the area of the Republic of Cyprus it has occupied since 1974”, said Lobby for Cyprus spokesperson Vangelis Christou.
Erdogan was speaking to journalists while en route to Turkey from Azerbaijan, when he stated “we will not decrease the number of our soldiers there but on the contrary, we will increase them.”
Erdogan was responding to rumours that Turkey plans to build an illegal naval base in the Turkish-occupied north of EU member state Cyprus.
According to news reports, Erdogan remarked: “We do not have a base problem” [in occupied Cyprus], explaining that due to Turkey’s close proximity “we do not have a problem reaching out there”.
“Cypriots know full well what Erdogan alludes to with his ‘reaching out there’, remark. These include those still living among the 170,000-plus Greek and Christian citizens of the Republic of Cyprus who were forcibly expelled from their homes by Turkish troops in 1974, when Turkey ‘reached out’ and invaded twice”, said Christou.
“Turkey should be working towards ending its illegal occupation in Cyprus, not entrenching it. Erdogan’s comments validate once again the concerns of many Cypriots – that Turkey is not only occupying the north of their country but colonising and militarising it in a throw-back to the Ottoman era.”
To compound Erdogan’s sinister and neo-colonial outburst, he informed journalists that “from now on, we will implement the prescription of our own”.
“Erdogan’s latest bellicose statements are further evidence, as if any more was required, that Turkey continues to be an ongoing threat to stability and peace, not only in Cyprus but in the region. It is high time that Turkey’s free pass to do as it pleases in Cyprus was withdrawn by its Western allies and the United Nations, who for too long have turned a blind eye to Turkey’s excesses in Cyprus and the ongoing suffering of the Cypriots, namely the refugees and displaced persons, whose fate has is in effect, been left in Turkey’s hands for too long”, concluded Christou.
Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation that campaigns for a Cyprus free from Turkish occupation and a unitary Cypriot state without segregation along ethnic and religious lines.