Turkey "right" over security concerns in Cyprus, Turkish FM says

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says a Greek Cypriot decision to mark a divisive day in which they voted to unite Cyprus with Greece demonstrates that Turkish Cypriots are still at risk.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) speaks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci during a visit to northern Cyprus, February 21, 2017.

Updated Feb 22, 2017

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has defended Turkey’s right to remain as a legal guarantor of peace in Cyprus, citing existing concerns over the safety of Turkish Cypriots on the island.

Turkey, along with Greece and the UK, is a signatory to the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, which gives the three countries the right to militarily intervene in Cyprus in the event of a collapse in the island’s state of affairs.

Turkey utilised that right on July 20, 1974, five days after a Greek junta carried out a coup against the Cypriot government in a bid to annex the island to Greece, an idea known as Enosis.

Yet, over four decades on, Turkish troops remain in the island’s north, a safe haven for Turkish Cypriots, where in 1983 locals declared the independence of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

“Turkey interfered in Cyprus to end the dream of Enosis, to stop the suffering and massacres of the Turkish community,” Cavusoglu said during an official visit to the Turkish Cypriot-controlled northern Nicosia on Tuesday, adding that Greek Cypriots have “proved the worries of the Turkish Cypriots were right.”

The Turkish foreign minister’s words will come as a reassurance for Turkish Cypriots who want to uphold the Treaty of Guarantee, an agreement the Greek Cypriot side says should be made obsolete. The topic is one of a handful of issues where the two sides have disagreed during UN-backed peace talks to establish a bizonal, bicommunal federation on the island.

Last week, peace talks stalled when Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, stormed out of a meeting with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Mustafa Akinci. Akinci had brought up the issue of Greek Cypriot schools marking a controversial 1950 referendum in which Greek Cypriots voted in favour of Enosis.  

Referring to the Greek Cypriot administration's decision to commemorate the day, Cavusoglu also told reporters that it confirms how Turkey is “right” on its concerns over security on the island as a guarantor state.