Earlier this month, the US State Department announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken lifted defense trade restrictions for Cyprus for fiscal year 2023. In a statement to TV broadcaster CNN, Turk Erdogan said the US decision was “inexplicable in content and timing.”
“The United States, which encourages the Cypriot-Greek duo to take steps that threaten peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, will lead to an arms race on the island with this decision,” Erdogan said.
– Are we going to stand aside? We cannot – emphasized the Turkish president and added that Turkey already has 40,000 people on the island. soldiers, whom it intends to strengthen with land, sea and air weapons, ammunition and combat vehicles.
“Everyone needs to know that America’s last step will not go unanswered and that every precaution will be taken for the safety of Turkish Cypriots,” Erdogan said.
On Saturday, September 17, the Turkish Foreign Ministry sharply criticized the United States’ announcement that it would lift the arms embargo on Cyprus.
The move is “contrary to the principle of equality on both sides of the island,” the ministry wrote in a statement. Its implementation “will further strengthen the tenacity of the Greek Cypriot side, negatively affect efforts to settle the Cyprus issue and lead to an arms race on the island, harming peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said the Turkish ministry and urged the US to reconsider this decision and “pursue a balanced policy towards both sides of the island”.
The Turkish ministry said it would “continue to take the necessary steps for the existence, security and peace of Turkish Cypriots at all costs.”
The northern third of the island has been occupied by Turkey since 1974. The United States imposed an arms embargo in 1987 to encourage island reunification, and then partially lifted the embargo in September 2020.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades welcomed the recent US decision on Twitter as “groundbreaking, reflecting the developing strategic relationship between the two countries, including in the area of security.”
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