Turkey pledges $325 million in COVID-19 aid to Northern Cyprus

Turkey’s government has pledged about $325 million in financial aid to help Northern Cyprus weather the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money will help solidify the brotherhood between the Turkish Cypriot enclave and Turkey, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Monday, according to the state-run TRT news channel. The aid to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) will be in the form of loans and grants, he said.

Turkey is seeking to increase its political and economic influence over the divided island, part of a wider plan by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to boost his country’s regional and global standing. A lynchpin of that policy is to drill for hydrocarbons close to the island, a move criticised by the European Union and United States for infringing on the sovereignty of the Greek Cypriot south.

"While preparing for the new normal, Turkey will continue to support the TRNC," Oktay said during a signing ceremony for the 2020 Economic and Financial Cooperation Agreement between Turkey and the north of Cyprus, held via video link.

The two parts of the island eased border restrictions this month enforced due to COVID-19 and have also cooperated in putting out a forest fire in the north.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a brief Greek Cypriot coup backed by the military government then ruling Greece. The Greek Cypriot south is a European Union member and is recognised as a legitimate state across the globe, while the north is only recognised by Turkey.