Turkey will reinforce its military presence in the north after the United States lifted defence trade restrictions on Cyprus, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said.
Speaking in a televised interview with broadcaster CNN Turk on Wednesday night, Erdogan said the lifting of the restrictions was “inexplicable in terms of content and timing.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken had lifted defense trade restrictions for Cyprus for fiscal year 2023.
“The United States, which overlooks and even encourages the steps by the Cypriot-Greek duo that threaten peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean, will lead to an armament race on the island with this step,” Erdogan said.
“Will we stand by? We cannot,” he said, adding that Turkey already has 40,000 troops on the island and will reinforce them with land, naval and aerial weapons, ammunition and vehicles, Erdogan said.
“Everyone must know that this last step will not go unresponded and that every precaution will be taken for the security of the Turkish Cypriots,” Erdogan said.
The breakaway regime in the north is only recognised by Ankara.
Erdogan also said that a long time will be needed for the ‘TRNC’ to be recognised as a country.
“These recognitions are not something that happen in an instant,” he told CNN Turk.
He added that Turkey believes that Turkish Cypriots equal rights need to be established, and that rests with the UN Security Council.
“If the Security Council acts justly, we will speed up the process,” he said.
Criticising the UN further, he added that the organisation has not thus far taken any steps to establish the sovereign equality of the Turkish Cypriot people.
“If the Security Council cannot do this, UN members can establish their [Turkish Cypriots] rights by recognising the ‘TRNC’,” he said.
He added that he explained the matter to his interlocutors at the meetings in New York, and he hoped their efforts would bear fruit.