Turkey blocks Cyprus from Geneva disarmament talks

Turkey has blocked Cyprus from taking part in the global Conference on Disarmament in the Swiss capital of Geneva, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Wednesday.

Cyprus was the only country prevented from taking part among many who requested the right to join as observers, Kathimerini said.

It was the first time that Turkey blocked Cyprus from participating in the forum, which happens three times a year to negotiate arms control and disarmament accords. The move comes amid intensifying political tensions between Turkey, the Greek Cypriot government on the Mediterranean island and Greece over drilling rights for minerals in the eastern Mediterranean.

A Turkish representative said Ankara had in the past refrained from blocking Cyprus’ participation by simply voicing its displeasure in a letter at the end of each session, Kathimerini said.

Cyprus has been lobbying the European Union to move faster in imposing economic sanctions on Turkey for its drilling activities. The decision comes two days after Cyprus labelled Turkey as a pirate state for its attempts to drill for oil and natural gas near the island.

Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974, when Turkey invaded the north following a brief Greek Cypriot coup backed by Athens. It keeps about 30,000 troops there. Turkey is the only country to recognise Turkish Cypriot-controlled northern Cyprus as a legitimate state.