Ankara ire over US submarine visit

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Nicosia does not perceive any disruption of the military balance after the Turkish-occupied north and Turkey denounced the visit of the USS San Juan submarine, which docked at Limassol.

Government Spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis said Monday: “We do not consider that there is any disruption of balance.

“With the foreign policy, we follow and defence agreements we undertake; we look forward to tightening cooperation with other countries in the defence sector”.

Turkey claimed Nicosia was undermining stability in the region with its defence policy.

“As we have repeatedly emphasised together with the TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus), the steps taken by the US at the expense of disrupting the balance on the Island of Cyprus and encouraging the Greek Cypriot administration’s armament do not contribute in any way to regional stability or to a just, sustainable and lasting settlement of the Cyprus issue,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry statement said.

“Turkey strongly supports the statement made by the ‘TRNC foreign ministry’ on the recent anchoring of a US attack submarine at a Greek Cypriot port and the armament activities of the Greek Cypriot administration.

“We once again call on the US to reconsider these policies,” it added.

Letymbiotis said, “There have been similar statements in the past by Turkey and since the lifting of the (US) arms embargo.

“What we are focusing on is strengthening relations with the US.

“There are also recent agreements in the defence sector.”

The breakaway north also condemned the US for anchoring an attack submarine at Limassol.

The Turkish Cypriots said the Republic was disrupting the atmosphere of stability and peace on the island and in the Eastern Mediterranean by stepping up its arms purchases.

“We strongly condemn the docking of the USS San Juan attack submarine at a Greek Cypriot seaport,” it added.

“We repeatedly state that the removal of the arms sales restrictions imposed by the US on the Greek Cypriot administration and subsequent steps that will endanger the security of the Turkish Cypriot people will encourage the Greek Cypriot administration to take up arms.”

Citing pledges by Defence Minister Michalis Giorgallas to buy US weapon systems, the statement said such developments show that the US is helping the “Greek Cypriot administration systematically arm itself”.

The USS San Juan docked at Limassol on April 3, and President Nikos Christodoulides visited the sub last Thursday.