"The memorandum of understanding will not serve peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean and will damage the solution of the Cyprus problem," Turkey's Foreign Ministry has said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades elbow bump after a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, September 12, 2020.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades elbow bump after a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, September 12, 2020. (Reuters)

Turkey has denounced a memorandum of understanding signed between the US and the Greek Cypriot administration and invited the US to return to the neutral stance on Cyprus.

A memorandum of understanding signed this week between the US and the Greek Cypriot administration will harm efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue instead of contributing to peace and stability, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said early on Monday. 

"The MoU signed between the US and the Greek Cypriot administration on Sept. 12, 2020 and envisaging the establishment of a ‘Land, High Seas and Port Security Center’ in the Greek Cypriot administration ignores the Turkish Cypriot side," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement.

"The memorandum of understanding will not serve peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean and will damage the solution of the Cyprus problem," Turkey's Foreign Ministry said.

It added that the recent steps by the United States increased the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.

"We invite the US to return to the neutrality policy it traditionally follows on the island of Cyprus and to contribute to the efforts aimed at the solution of the Cyprus issue," the ministry said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month that the United States would lift a 33-year arms embargo on Cyprus and deepen its security cooperation with Nicosia.

READ MORE: What is at stake in the eastern Mediterranean?

Traditional policy of neutrality

The steps taken by the US in lifting an arms embargo on the Greek Cypriots and including the Greek side in its International Military Education and Training (IMET) program disrupt the balance between the two peoples on the island and increase tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, Aksoy said.

In this respect, it is striking that US Secretary of State Pompeo did not meet with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) during his visit to the island, he added.

On September 1, the US partially lifted an arms embargo on the Southern Greek Cypriot administration while Pompeo announced in July that the US has included the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus in its military training program for 2020.

After the forcible division in 1963 of the island of Cyprus by the Greek Cypriots, 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 TRNC was founded.

For many decades, talks were held 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.

READ MORE: US urges diplomatic, peaceful resolution in eastern Mediterranean

Source: TRTWorld and agencies