Also responding to Washington's decision, TRNC President Mustafa Akinci says it "was not a step in the right direction."

A view of (L to R, foreground) the flags of Greece, Greek-administered Cyprus, (L to R, background) Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) flying on respective security outposts lying off both sides of the United Nations Buffer Zone in the old walled city of the divided capital Nicosia. February 7, 2020.
A view of (L to R, foreground) the flags of Greece, Greek-administered Cyprus, (L to R, background) Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) flying on respective security outposts lying off both sides of the United Nations Buffer Zone in the old walled city of the divided capital Nicosia. February 7, 2020. (AFP)

Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have both slammed the US decision to partially lift an arms embargo from Greek Cypriots.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said the move poisons hopes for peace in eastern Mediterranean and is incompatible with the spirit of alliance. 

The move ignores the equality and balance between the two peoples on the island, Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, adding it will definitely hurt efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue.

"We expect the US to reconsider its decision and support existing efforts to establish peace and stability in the region," the ministry said.

Turkey, as a guarantor country for Cyprus, will resolutely take the necessary steps to guarantee the security of the Turkish Cypriots in accordance with its legal and historical responsibility, the ministry added.

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus decries US decision

Speaking to US ambassador to Greek Cyprus Judith Gail Garber by phone, TRNC President Mustafa Akinci said the decision "was not a step in the right direction," according to a statement from the presidential office.

In the phone conversation initiated by Garber, Akinci stressed that the decision would not encourage the Greek side to reach a comprehensive solution in Cyprus and would not serve peace. On the contrary, he said, it would help the Greek side stay away from the negotiation table.

Akinci underlined that it is necessary not to contribute to armament efforts in Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean but to facilitate dialogue and reconciliation.

Prime Minister Ersin Tatar in a statement emphasised that lifting the arms embargo will not do anything other than to increase the conflict and serve the US in "making money".

Tatar said the move, which came at a time when Greek provocations in the region were on the rise, did not suit a permanent member of the UN Security Council like the US.

"I condemn the US and invite it to return from this mistake immediately," he said.

Tatar reiterated that Turkey and the TRNC will never give up their rights.

"What needs to be done is not to increase tensions, but to come to peace by seeing the facts."

TRNC Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay also decried the US decision.

"It is a disappointment for the stability and peace in the region that the US announced its decision to lift the arms embargo on the Greek Cypriot side on September 1, World Peace Day," Ozersay said in a statement.

Ozersay emphasized that everyone should think very well what it means to lift the arms embargo, which was put into effect on the grounds of not interrupting efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem.

"In this geography, we witnessed many wrong decisions that were unfair and supported only one of the parties to the dispute. This last decision taken by the US on the arms embargo will be just one of them, but it will not even dissuade us from our struggle for our rights and interests in the region," he added.

Decades-old dispute

Following the forcible 1963 division of the island of Cyprus by the Greek Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriots suffered under a campaign of ethnic violence.

In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus's annexation to Greece, Ankara intervened as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded.

For many decades, there were talks to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure. 

The latest round, held with the participation of the guarantor countries – Turkey, Greece, and the UK – ended without a breakthrough in 2017 in Switzerland.

UN intervention

In 2004, the plan of then-UN chief 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.

Source: AA