By Burcu Calik
ANKARA (AA) - Turkish army will never hesitate to take the same step as 45 years ago "if needed for the lives and security of Turkish Cypriots," the Turkish President said on Saturday.
"Turkey launched the peace operation in Cyprus to protect rights and interests of Turkish Cypriots who are one of the equal owners of the island," said Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a statement released by Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate.
Erdogan's remarks came on the 45th anniversary of Turkey’s military operation launched to protect Turkish population in Cyprus.
"The entire world is watching our determination. No one should doubt that the heroic Turkish army, which sees [Northern] Cyprus as its homeland, will not hesitate to take the same step it took 45 years ago if needed for the lives and security of the Turkish Cypriots," said Erdogan.
Erdogan recalled that the military operation in 1974 came after all diplomatic steps were exhausted in line with international law and added:
"Those who think the wealth of the island and the region only belongs to them will face the determination of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots."
Erdogan highlighted that Turkey's aim was a fair and permanent solution on the island and peace, not the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean to prevail.
"Those who dream of changing the fact that Turkish Cypriots are an integral part of the Turkish nation will soon realize that it is in vain," Erdogan added.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ 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. -- ended in 2017 in Switzerland.