Turkey not reducing troops in Northern Cyprus, Erdoğan says

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday said Turkey has the right to keep its troops in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

"Turkey is not reducing its troops in Northern Cyprus,” Anadolu quoted Erdoğan as saying on his way to Tajikistan’s capital city of Dushanbe. Turkey "does not need permission from anyone" to position its soldiers in Northern Cyprus, the Turkish president added.

The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974 into predominantly Greek south, whose government is internationally recognised, and the Turkish north, whose sovereignty is only recognised by Ankara.

Ankara has been in a bitter dispute with Athens and Nicosia over the island's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and natural gas drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey objects to Cypriot and Greek for gas exploration efforts in the Eastern Mediterranean and says northern Turkish Cypriot state - which is only recognised by Turkey - should receive a fair share from gas resources of the disputed island.

Turkey invaded the island in 1974 in response to a coup d'etat backed by Greece's nationalist government at the time.