By Stefanos Evripidou
TURKEY HAS increased the number of troops on the island by 7,000 this year, according to a report compiled by the Cyprus Centre for Strategic Studies (CCSS).
The report notes that from 2001-2012, the size of military forces on the island remained relatively unchanged. However, according to new data for 2013, the Turkish army increased its presence in the occupied north from 36,000 to 43,000.
The head of the centre, former AKEL MP and current member of the Committee on Missing Persons, Aristos Aristotelous compiles and analyses the data on military comings and goings on the island using “open and reliable” sources.
According to Aristotelous, if Turkish Cypriot forces and reservists are also calculated then the total size of military forces in the north reaches 74,000, while the number of tanks has decreased by 100.
Figures for the Cyprus National Guard (NG) meanwhile remain the same, said the CCSS, both in terms of military manpower and equipment.
The report notes that the ongoing economic crisis has had an impact on defence planning, placing unbearable pressure on the level of maintenance that can be carried out and the effectiveness of the force. At the same time, the NG has yet to provide answers to how it will face new challenges in protecting and securing the Cyprus Republic’s productive resources and facilities.
Turkey’s superiority in the air and at sea remains unchallenged and obvious, said the report.
According to the centre, general calculations reveal that the total number of military forces on the island that can be called to arms by the Cyprus Republic or Greece reach 62,950 compared to 74,000 Turkish troops in Cyprus, which includes 5,000 armed Turkish Cypriots and 26,000 Turkish Cypriot reservists.
Following the withdrawal of the obsolete and operationally inadequate AMX-30 French tanks, the National Guard today has at its disposal 160 tanks, compared to 179 in 2011.
The Turkish armed forces reduced their tank forces by 100, going from having 449 tanks, which they’ve had for the last 12 years to 349.
If one includes the 61 tanks at the disposal of ELDYK (the Greek military contingent on the island), then for every one tank at the NG’s disposal, there are 1.6 Turkish tanks.
The report notes that the NG has 402 armoured personnel carriers (APCs) compared to the occupation force’s 627, from which 361 are Turkish-made and 266 are American (the M-133s).
The centre concludes that the British forces’ presence on the island remains roughly the same at 1,678 as does the number of boots on the ground representing the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), which comes to 855.