By Muhammet Ikbal Arslan
LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
The Turkish Cypriot foreign minister said Monday the Greek premier should not forget that Turkish military presence in Cyprus is because of a coup and an invasion attempt by Greece in the island.
Ozersay's comments followed Greece’s newly elected Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's earlier statement targeting Turkish army presence in the island , as he is paying a two-day working visit to the Greek Cypriot sector in his first visit abroad after taking the top office in Greece.
In a joint news conference with the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades on Monday, Mitsotakis said there would not be a solution to Cyprus issue as long as Turkish military forces stay on the island.
In response to Mitsotakis, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay said those remarks of Mitsotakis are "very unfortunate".
"The presence of Turkish military here is a result and outcome of Greece's coup and invasion attempt. I suggest him [Mitsotakis] to never forget this fact," Ozersay told Anadolu Agency.
Ozersay said if Mitsotakis is after an illegal activity, he should look at the unilateral steps of Greek Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean which usurp the rights of the Turkish Cypriots.
The visit of Mitsotakis on the island comes amid tensions with Turkey and the TRNC over energy exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, with Turkey sending out two ships to seek out underwater resources.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’s annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. -- came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.
* Writing by Fatih Hafiz Mehmet
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