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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsCyprusErdogan: Turkey to Beef Up Occupation Army in Cyprus

Erdogan: Turkey to Beef Up Occupation Army in Cyprus

Turkey Cyprus Erdogan
Turkish and Turkish Cypriot flags on display during a military parade in the occupied part of Cyprus. Credit: Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

President Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Wednesday to strengthen Turkey’s military presence in occupied northern Cyprus after the US lifted the defense embargo on Cyprus.

Speaking in a televised interview with broadcaster CNN Turk, Erdogan said the lifting of the embargo was “inexplicable in terms of content and timing.”

Earlier this month, the US State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken had lifted defense trade restrictions for Cyprus for fiscal year 2023.

Turkey’s Erdogan warns of an arms race in Cyprus

“The United States, which overlooks and even encourages the steps by the Cypriot-Greek duo that threaten peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean, will lead to an armament race on the island with this step,” Erdogan said, according to Reuters.

“Will we stand by? We cannot,” he said, adding that Turkey already has forty thousand troops on the island and will reinforce them with land, naval, and aerial weapons, ammunition and vehicles, Erdogan said.

“Everyone must know that this last step will not go [unanswered] and that every precaution will be taken for the security of the Turkish Cypriots,” Reuters quotes Erdogan as saying.

Turkey fumes at the lifting of the US defense embargo on Cyprus

The lifting of the US defense embargo on Cyprus was hailed by both Nicosia and Athens but condemned by Ankara.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken determined and certified to Congress that the Republic of Cyprus has met the necessary conditions under relevant legislation to allow the approval of exports, re-exports, and transfers of defense articles,” according to State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Price said the international traffic in arms regulations will be amended to reflect the new policy effective October 1st.

Turkey’s foreign ministry strongly condemned the expansion of a decision taken by the United States in September 2020 to lift its arms embargo on Cyprus.

The Turkish foreign ministry said this decision would “further strengthen the Greek Cypriot side’s intransigence and negatively affect efforts to resettle the Cyprus issue.”

“It will lead to an arms race on the island, harming peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean,” the statement said, calling on the United States to reconsider its decision and pursue a balanced policy towards the two sides on the island.

Cyprus fulfilled the requirements of the US Security and Energy Partnership Act

Cyprus has now fulfilled all the requirements of the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 passed by the US Congress following a proposal by US Senators Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio.

The legislation led the US to partially lift its arms embargo against Cyprus in 2020 to allow for “non-lethal” military goods to be sold to the Republic, including military training programs.

In return, Cyprus was to refuse Russian military vessels docking in ports in the government-controlled areas among other stipulations.

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