Turkish naval base ‘could be set up’ in North Cyprus
TURKEY could set up a naval base in North Cyprus to counter the arms activities of Greece and the Greek Cypriot side of Cyprus, Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu has suggested.
Mr Ertuğruloğlu said the TRNC “will not sit back and watch the armament attempts by Greece and South Cyprus” and will “take the necessary measures in parallel with any steps to be taken by South Cyprus”. He said that “setting up a naval base could be one of the measures”.
The minister made the comments during an interview with Deutsche Welle’s (DW) Turkish service.
The remarks follow the decision of the United States administration to completely lift its embargo on the sales of arms to the “Republic of Cyprus” last month in exchange for denying Russian military vessels access to South Cyprus ports for refuelling and servicing.
“Of course, it’s visible that some tension in the Eastern Mediterranean is heating up, but this is not surprising,” Mr Ertuğruloğlu said during the interview.
“The main reasons for this tension were due to the policies of the US as well as the other Western
powers, which encourage Greece and South Cyprus.
“From the very beginning, we have continued to say that we would not allow any of those activities that ignore and attempt to usurp the rights of motherland Turkey and Turkish Cypriots.
“To this end, whatever is necessary is being done.”
Mr Ertuğruloğlu continued: “The embargoes and inhumane restrictions imposed on Turkish Cypriots don’t bother anyone. The five members of the UN Security Council were the ones who created the Cyprus problem. Turkish Cypriots have always been left in a disadvantaged position. Our motherland has been the one who has protected us.
“Thanks to our motherland, we still exist on the island and will continue to do so. We will never allow our rights, interests and security on the island and in the Eastern Mediterranean to be at the mercy of the Greek Cypriots. We will not sit back and watch the arming of South Cyprus and a military build-up in Greece. The necessary measures are already being taken.”
When asked to elaborate on these measures and whether they include increasing the existing military presence of Turkey and a possible naval base on the island, Mr Ertuğruloğlu replied: “We will not sit back and watch helplessly while steps, which pose a threat to our security, are taken.
“Together with our motherland, we will continue to do what is needed, but these cannot be elaborated. As I have expressed earlier, I think there is a need to set up a naval base, but such measures are not the type to be announced or advertised in advance.
“You follow the moves by the other side and, in response, you do whatever is necessary, without any hesitation, to teach them their place in response. It’s very simple.”
Meanwhile the TRNC’s Foreign Ministry has criticised a US Department of State spokesperson for saying that the US supports a “settlement on the island” while aiming to sell arms to the Greek Cypriot side.
“The representatives of the United States should be well aware of the fact that selling arms to one side makes it difficult to reach an agreement between the two sides on the island,” the statement said.
It also noted that the TRNC “has for a long time been constantly putting on record that a legal framework between our country and the United Nations is required for the continuation of the presence and activities of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in the TRNC”.
The ministry statement said the TRNC has “taken a proactive step and presented the UN authorities with a draft agreement which will be of mutual interest for both sides” and that it expects the United States to be “supportive of the step taken by the [TRNC] which will pave the way for the continuation of the activities of the United Nations Peacekeeping forces in our country”.
It added that the “continued insistence of the United States on the ‘federation’ model” for a solution in Cyprus “is not in line with the changing conditions of the day”.
“It has been confirmed that the Greek Cypriot side rejected the negotiations aiming towards a federation,” the statement pointed out.
“Moreover, most importantly, there exist two peoples and two states on the island today. Only an effort that takes this fact into account can create the desired atmosphere of stability and welfare on the island and the region.”