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Greece, Turkey foreign ministries embroiled in spat over Cyprus

Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Kotzias

A spat has broken out between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus, with the countries’ foreign ministries trading barbs regarding the events of 1974.

In response to a Greek foreign ministry statement on August 2, Ankara accused Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Kotzias of continuing the same unfortunate approach regarding the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

The Turkish foreign ministry was referring to a statement by Kotzias regarding reports that the leadership and officers of the Turkish occupying forces in Cyprus were implicated in the failed coup to overthrow President Tayyip Erdogan on July 15.

“The information coming to light regarding the involvement of the leadership and officers of the occupation forces in Cyprus in the attempted coup in Turkey, confirm and bolster even further, our longstanding position that the elimination of the anachronistic system of guarantees and the withdrawal of the occupation forces are fundamental conditions for the resolution of the Cyprus issue, as the need for their removal from Cyprus is being demonstrated once again,” Kotzias said.

The Turkish ministry said it expected that Greece, a guarantor power, would have adopted a more constructive and realistic stance at a time when Turkey had quelled an attempted coup and was struggling for democracy and while reunification talks continued in Cyprus.

Kotzias’ statement was similar to one he issued on July 20, to mark the Turkish invasion.

“On the same day, our ministry issued an announcement saying it expected Greece to avoid unfortunate statements that tried to take advantage of the situation following the abhorrent coup attempt, and act in a spirit of good neighbourly relations and democratic solidarity,” the Turkish ministry said.

Ankara said it was saddened to see that Kotzias continued with the same “unfortunate” approach on August 2.

It added that Greece turned the blind eye to the collapse of the “partnership state” in 1963 and in 1974 the Athens junta backed the coup in Cyprus.

Turkey intervention was possible using the right stemming from the system of guarantees, the Turkish foreign ministry said.

In response, the Greek foreign ministry reiterated that “the elimination of the anachronistic system of guarantees and the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus are sine qua non conditions for a just and viable resolution of the Cyprus issue.”

Athens said the invasion and ongoing presence of the occupation forces on the island were a source of instability, insecurity, and suffering for all residents of Cyprus.

“Finally, personal attacks rather than responses can be taken only as an indication of intransigence and do anything but contribute to the development of Greek-Turkish relations.”

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