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State department clarifies US position following reception dispute

Lieutenant General Ilias Bozkurt shaking hands with US ambassador Kathleen Doherty

The US State Department`s Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner has given new clarifications on the country’s position on Cyprus, following reaction over the presence of uniformed Turkish military officers at a US embassy reception in the Turkish occupied north.

In a written statement, Toner said that when he replied ‘no’ to a question on November 10, “if the US recognizes the occupation?” he meant that the US does not recognize the Turkish Cypriot breakaway state in the north.

The US position on Cyprus has not changed, he said in the written statement.

“We fully support the UN-facilitated process under UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide, and we reiterate our willingness to assist the process in any way the parties find useful,” he said.

Toner added that “as we have made clear, we are encouraged by the progress Cypriot leaders have made in recent months. We encourage the parties to reach a settlement as soon as possible to reunify the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, which would benefit all Cypriots as well as the wider region”.

“The United States does not recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” he said.

The reception, hosted by new American ambassador to Cyprus Kathleen Doherty last week sparked outrage among Greek Cypriot political parties.

According to Turkish daily Milliyet, the event, which was apparently a meet-and-greet held at the Merit hotel in northern Cyprus last Thursday, was attended, among others, by Lieutenant General Ilias Bozkurt, commander of the Turkish occupation forces in Cyprus, and Brigadier General Erhan Uzun, commander of the Turkish Cypriot security forces.

Milliyet featured remarks by an unnamed diplomat, who was quoted as saying that “it is very significant that the Turkish army was invited to the USA’s reception in Cyprus. It is a signal of trust by the USA to the Turkish army.”

The paper reported that, as a rule, the United States invite Turkish army officers at receptions, but this marked the first time all officers were present in uniform.



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