Turkey to strengthen its military presence in northern Cyprus-Erdogan

ISTANBUL, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Turkey will boost its military presence in northern Cyprus after the United States lifted defense trade restrictions in Cyprus, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

Speaking in a TV interview with broadcaster CNN Turk, Erdogan said the lifting of restrictions was “inexplicable in terms of content and timing”.

Earlier this month, the US State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken had lifted defense trade restrictions for Cyprus for fiscal year 2023. read more

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“The United States, which neglects and even encourages the steps of the Cypriot-Greek duo which threaten peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean, will lead to an arms race on the island with this step,” Erdogan said.

“Are we going to sit idly by? We cannot,” he said, adding that Turkey already had 40,000 troops on the island and would reinforce them with land, sea and air weapons, ammunition and vehicles, Erdogan said.

“Everyone should know that this last step will not go unanswered and that every precaution will be taken for the safety of Turkish Cypriots,” Erdogan said.

Cyprus was divided following a 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Since then, Cyprus has been ruled by a southern Greek Cypriot administration which Ankara does not recognize.

The breakaway Turkish state on the northern side of the divided island is recognized only by Ankara.

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Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Sandra Maler

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Sharon P. Juarez