The Foreign Ministry of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Friday criticized the arms program started by the Greek Cypriot administration, saying that the move raises tensions on the divided island.
“The Greek Cypriot administration continuing arming itself to threaten our country, pursuing provocative activities, is serving nothing other than raising tensions on the island and region,” the ministry said.
The statement said that the Greek Cypriot side had been carrying out an armament program for a while despite knowing that it would cause tension. It emphasized that the Greek Cypriot side's increased military alliances against the TRNC and its purchase of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and heavy weapons were clearly visible.
“The mentioned arming activities are threatening the stability and peace atmosphere of our island and the Eastern Mediterranean,” the ministry said, urging countries supporting these acts to stop.
In the statement, which noted that the TRNC made various constructive suggestions and tried to pave the way for dialogue and cooperation in order to find solutions to the problems affecting Cyprus and to implement confidence-building measures, it said, "As long as the Greek Cypriot Administration continues its armament activities, the TRNC and the Republic of Turkey will not refrain from taking the necessary measures. The importance of Turkey's effective and de facto guarantee is understood once again in the face of the Greek Cypriot side's armament activities."
The island of Cyprus has been mired in a decadeslong struggle between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the U.N. to achieve a comprehensive settlement. Five decades of Cyprus talks have led nowhere.
The island has been divided since 1964, when ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece's annexation led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power. The TRNC was founded in 1983.
The Greek Cypriot administration, backed by Greece, became a member of the European Union in 2004, although in a referendum that year most Greek Cypriots rejected a U.N. settlement plan that envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the European Union.