Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan warned that Turkey would reinforce its military presence in the occupied north after the United States lifted its arms embargo on Cyprus.
In a televised interview with broadcaster CNN Turk, Erdogan said lifting the defence restrictions was “inexplicable in terms of content and timing.”
Earlier this month, the US State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken had lifted decades-old defence trade restrictions for Cyprus for the fiscal year 2023.
“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.
“Will we stand by? We cannot,” he said, adding that Turkey already has 40,000 troops on the island and will reinforce them with land, naval and aerial weapons, ammunition, and vehicles.
“Everyone must know that this last step will not go unresponded and that every precaution will be taken for the security of the Turkish Cypriots,” Erdogan said.
Cyprus was split following a 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup.
Ankara does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus but is the only country to recognise the breakaway Turkish Cypriot regime in the north. (Source Reuters)