Turkish commando forces ready to intervene in the buffer zone, Foreign Minister warns

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on Friday that there is information that in addition to reinforcing its outposts in the buffer zone, Turkey has commando forces ready to intervene, adding that almost every week there is an incident in the buffer zone by the Turkish army.

Speaking before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Finance, during the discussion on the Ministry’s 2023 budget, Kasoulides pointed out that with even the slightest thing, when a farmer goes to cultivate his land inside the buffer zone, Turkish soldiers create an incident.

He also said that there had been a mobilisation in the village of Astromeritis “after a farmer was harassed, completely unjustifiably, for twenty of our tractors to enter the buffer zone. Fortunately, they didn’t get in in the end but if they did we would have seen commando forces, Land Rovers and other things they had there to go and deal with such a situation. That’s why we have to be very careful,” he underlined.

Turkey, he said, is currently launching a massive, multi-front attack against the Republic of Cyprus and added that “we are going through a period of transition, the last months of the current government and the next few months until the new government. Turkey chose to take advantage of this period”. He also recalled that after that there will be elections in Greece followed by elections in Turkey.

Referring to the illegal Turkish drilling, Kasoulides noted that the information was that they would proceed to plot 6 or plot 4. The Foreign Minister said that representations were made as well as diplomatic efforts by foreign countries and the UN to prevent it. He noted that the Turkish drilling vessel Abdul Hamid Khan returned after drilling in territorial waters not disputed by Cyprus and in Turkish occupied Famagusta, known as Varosha, at least at the moment, the things that were announced will not be carried out.

“We have never abandoned the line of imposing sanctions against Turkey. But we want these sanctions to be effective. So, I would first consult with partners, who may veto and not let anything go forward, and then file a request for sanctions,” he added.

In relation to an announcement by the Turkish President that there will be ‘good news’ until the 15th of the month for the opening of offices of the illegal regime in the Turkish occupied areas in European countries, he said that Cyprus made representations together with other states and noted that there is an effort for equal international status of the occupied territories. Noting that there are already offices of the pseudostate in many European countries based on private law, as organisations or companies, he said that these offices are not accepted on the diplomatic list nor do they have diplomatic privileges, nor are they invited or connected to the Foreign Ministries of the countries.

Regarding the efforts of the pseudostate for a separate status of forces agreement (SOFA) with the UN Secretariat, he stressed that everyone accepts that SOFA is with sovereign states and no such agreement is going to be concluded.

“But they are succumbing to a Turkish blackmail that if no agreement is reached they will prevent UNFICYP from operating from the occupied territories. We are not going to accept any solution that implies acceptance of the presence of UNFICYP beyond Security Council Resolution 186,” he stressed.

Regarding the problem with the illegal immigration to Cyprus, Kasoulides said that he has requested to hold meetings with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, Congo and Cameroon with the aim of concluding repatriation agreements.

As regards the Ministry’s budget for 2023, he said that it constitutes 1% of the state budget and is the smallest of all other Ministries of the Republic. The total budget of the Ministry for 2023 amounts to 102,923,584 euros. He also said that in 2023 they plan to reopen embassies in Nairobi and Jakarta as well as new embassies in Buenos Aires and Bahrain. They also intend to re-open the Embassy in Mexico possibly in 2024. Concluding, he said that the goal is also to open an embassy in Addis Ababa, the seat of the African Union.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Source: Cyprus News Agency