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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsCyprusSpain and Poland Withdraw From Military Drills with Occupied Cyprus

Spain and Poland Withdraw From Military Drills with Occupied Cyprus

Spain and Poland reportedly withdrew from military drills involving units from Northern Cyprus. Credit: Adam Johnson / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Spain and Poland have withdrawn from military drills that would have included units from the occupied side of Cyprus, the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The “Anatolian Phoenix” exercise is held by Turkey twice a year. One of the exercises is an international event.

This is not the first time the Anatolian Phoenix exercise has created diplomatic controversy. In previous years, Greece has objected to the participation of allied NATO member states in the military drills due to the involvement of Northern Cyprus.

Northern Cyprus is not internationally recognized as a legitimate state by any country other than Turkey. Northern Cyprus declared independence in 1983, after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

Spain and Poland withdraw at the eleventh hour

It was previously understood that Spain and Poland would participate in the Anatolian Phoenix exercises. The Turkish Ministry of Defense released a video promoting the upcoming drills which claimed that forces from Azerbaijan, Spain, Qatar, and Poland would join Turkish and Turkish Cypriot units for the exercise.

However, it later emerged according to some media reports, that Spain and Poland were unaware of the participation of occupied Cyprus, and that they subsequently withdraw from the training exercises.

This appears to be due to diplomatic pressure from the governments of Greece and the Republic of Cyprus who urged Spain and Poland to issue a withdrawal. Azerbaijan and Qatar are both close allies of Turkey and neither are NATO members, so there was less of an onus on them to withdraw.

On Saturday, Victor Papadopoulos, Director of the press office of the President of the Cyprus Republic, commented on the fiasco on Twitter, saying “They are withdrawing from the military exercise in Turkey due to the participation of the pseudo-state, Spain and Poland have informed[the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs] after the diplomatic steps of the government at all levels.”

Controversies over participation of Northern Cyprus in military drills

The participation of occupied Cyprus in annual military drills hosted by Turkey has caused other diplomatic controversies in recent years.

For example, in 2021, Slovakia initially committed to participating in the exercise but eventually pulled out due to the presence of the Northern Cypriot pseudo-state. Both Slovakia and the United States had intended to send ground personnel to join the drill. However, the United States also decided not to take part in the exercise.

During an informal meeting of the European Union’s foreign ministers on May 26, 2021, Slovak foreign minister Ivan Korčok informed Greek foreign minister Nikos Dendias about Slovakia’s withdrawal from the exercise. The Greek Foreign Ministry reported that Korčok emphasized Slovakia’s dedication to international law and European solidarity while conveying the decision.

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