Turkey prepared to reinvade Cyprus if needed, says Erdoğan

The Turkish army is prepared to take the same step as 45 years ago and invade Cyprus “if needed for the lives and security of Turkish Cypriots,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday.

“The entire world is watching our determination. No one should doubt that the heroic Turkish army, which sees [Northern] Cyprus as its homeland, will not hesitate to take the same step it took 45 years ago if needed for the lives and security of the Turkish Cypriots,” state-run Anadolu News Agency quoted Erdoğan as saying.

The Turkish president’s comments arrived on 45th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974 to oppose a Greek nationalist coup that aimed to unite the island with mainland Greece.

Cyprus is split between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus following the invasion of Turkey, which has since maintained a military presence in the northern part of the island. Turkey does not diplomatically recognise the Republic of Cyprus in the southern part of the island and is the only country to recognise the Turkish Cypriot republic.

“Those who think the wealth of the island and the region only belongs to them will face the determination of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots,” Erdoğan said, adding that Ankara’s aim was a fair and permanent solution on the island.

Turkey is at odds with Cyprus and Greece over the potentially rich hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. Ankara says the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot enclave in the north of the island, which only it recognises, has a right to a share in the reserves, while the Cypriot government says any proceeds from gas drilling will be shared fairly after a peace deal is established.

“Those who dream of changing the fact that Turkish Cypriots are an integral part of the Turkish nation will soon realise that it is in vain,” Erdoğan added.

EU foreign ministers on Monday approved sanctions against Turkey while backing a proposal by the EU’s executive branch to reduce financial assistance to country for next year over its drilling in the region.

Turkey dismissed the initial set of sanctions approved by the EU against Ankara as “worthless,” while vowing to send a new vessel to the eastern Mediterranean to reinforce its efforts to drill for hydrocarbons.