The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) denounced the "target practice for Greek Cypriot priests" organized by the Greek Cypriot administration on Tuesday.
The activity was organized by the National Guard of the Greek Cypriot administration in collaboration with the Greek Orthodox Church, the TRNC Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
"It is not surprising for the Greek Orthodox Church, sparing no effort to keep the enmity alive against the Turkish existence on the island, to involve in such a provocative act," read the statement.
"We condemn this shooting exercise in the strongest possible terms, which went as far as awarding the best striking priests."
The ministry said past press reports detailed how "the Greek Orthodox Church had participated in similar exercises of the Greek Cypriot National Guard and funded the Greek Cypriot National Guard."
"This hostile act, witnessed by the whole world, demonstrated the main purpose of the Greek Cypriot leadership and the Greek Orthodox Church. It is of paramount significance to see that the international actors, supposedly supporting an agreement on the island, remain silent against these video footages," read the statement.
The TRNC said the continuing "armament and military activities" of the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus prove "that the Turkish Cypriot people are justified in seeing the existence of their sovereign state," as well as "motherland" Turkey's "effective guarantee as a prerequisite."
Video footage circulating on social media shows that military commanders of the National Guard of the Greek Cypriot administration taught priests of the Greek Orthodox Church how to use heavy weapons, by using targets.
Cyprus has been mired in a decadeslong dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the United Nations to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.
In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece's annexation led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.
It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the United Kingdom.
The Greek Cypriot administration entered the European Union in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted the U.N.'s plan to end the longstanding dispute.