UPDATE – Turkey slams US lifting of arms embargo on Greek Cyprus

Alaturka Amerika ABD Haberleri

ADDS REMARKS FROM TURKEY’S VICE PRESIDENT

By Fahri Aksut and Isa Toprak

ANKARA (AA) – The US decision to partially lift an arms embargo on the Greek Cypriots, poisoning hopes for peace in the Eastern Mediterranean, is incompatible with the spirit of alliance, Turkey said late Tuesday.

The decision announced earlier in the day ignores the equality and balance between the two peoples on the island, said a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement.

It will definitely hurt efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue, it added.

The ministry stressed that at a time of ongoing efforts to reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the US making such a decision is incompatible with the spirit of alliance.

"We expect the US to reconsider its decision and support existing efforts to establish peace and stability in the region," it said.

Meanwhile, in a series of tweets, Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay also slammed the US move.

“We as Turkey will continue to take steps to guarantee peace and prosperity against this kind of approach which will increase the risk of conflict in the region,” Oktay wrote.

Turkey, as a guarantor country for Cyprus, will resolutely take the necessary steps to guarantee the security of Turkish Cypriots in accordance with its legal and historical responsibility, the ministry highlighted.

Following the forcible 1963 division of the island of Cyprus by the Greek Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriots suffered under a campaign of ethnic violence.

In 1974, following a coup aimed at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded.

For many decades, there were talks to resolve the dispute, all of which ended in failure. The latest, held with the participation of the guarantor countries – Turkey, Greece and the UK – ended in 2017 in Switzerland.

In 2004, the plan of then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for a solution was accepted by the Turkish Cypriots but rejected by the Greek Cypriots in referendums held on both sides of the island.

In a recent report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that "new ideas" may be needed for settling the issue of the island.

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