By Murat Demirci
LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Turkey will continue to protect the rights of Turkish Cypriots “under any circumstances,” the country’s vice president said on Saturday.
"We will protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people under any circumstances. We will also not allow any fait accompli in the international arena," Fuat Oktay told reporters in Cyprus capital Lefkosa.
Speaking about the fresh water being provided via pipeline from Turkey to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Oktay said that 95 percent of the water issue has been resolved on the island.
"This is not only a peace project for the Turkish side but also for the Greek side," he added.
Turkey began to deliver fresh water to Turkish Cyprus via an 80-kilometer (50-mile) pipeline under the Mediterranean in October 2015. Under the project, some 75 million cubic meters of fresh water will be sent each year for a total of 50 years.
Oktay said that Turkey does not want Turkish Cypriots to be dependent on aid but to be able "to stand on their own feet and to produce by themselves“.
On Friday Turkish vice president attended the 44th anniversary of Turkey’s military operation launched to protect Turkish population in northern Cyprus in Lefkosa.
Every July 20 Peace and Freedom Day in the TRNC commemorates Turkey’s “Cyprus Peace Operation.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.
The latest attempt to reunify the long-divided Mediterranean island ended in failure in 2017 after two years of negotiations.