Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also says US decision to lift arms embargo on Greek Cypriot administration has disrupted balanced policy on the island.

Cavusoglu has stressed that Türkiye will protect Turkish Cypriots.
Cavusoglu has stressed that Türkiye will protect Turkish Cypriots. (AA)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has told Athens that "hiding behind the EU will be of no use", calling on Greece to abide by international law.

Amid repeated provocative actions and rhetoric by Greece in the region in recent months, Ankara has sent a letter to the UN and NATO chiefs, the EU foreign policy chief and 25 EU capitals, addressing possible solutions to disputes in the Aegean Sea.

Cavusoglu, speaking at a press conference in Türkiye's southwestern Mugla province on Friday, said Greece's response to the letter was "weak" and lacked "legal argument".

Türkiye, a NATO member for over 70 years, has complained of repeated provocative actions and rhetoric by Greece in the region in recent months, including arming islands near Turkish shores that are demilitarised under treaty, saying that such moves frustrate its good faith and efforts for peace.

Cavusoglu also said the latest move by the US to lift arms embargo on the Greek Cypriot administration was a "reward" for "leaning away from Russia."

He stressed the move has disrupted balanced policy on the island and made the US completely pro-Greek Cypriot.

On September 16, the US State Department announced the lifting of the arms embargo on the Greek Cypriot administration.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the move, saying it is “in contradiction to the principle of equality of the two sides on the island, and will further strengthen the Greek Cypriot side’s intransigence, will negatively affect the efforts to resettle the Cyprus issue, and will lead to an arms race on the island, harming peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

READ MORE: Türkiye vows to protect national interests amid provocative Greek moves

Dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots

Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.

In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece’s annexation of the island led to Türkiye’s military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded in 1983.

It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Türkiye, Greece and the UK.

The Greek Cypriot administration entered the EU in 2004, the same year that Greek Cypriots thwarted a UN plan to end the longstanding dispute.

READ MORE: Türkiye protests with US, Greece over military deployment on Aegean islands

Source: AA