UPDATES WITH BACKGROUND
By Merve Aydogan
ANKARA (AA) - Türkiye on Monday strongly condemned the Greek Cypriot administration's inclusion in a US military partnership program.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement said it strongly condemned the Greek Cypriot administration's "inclusion in the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program, under the scope of the U.S. Department of Defense."
"From our point of view, the latest move of the U.S., two weeks after lifting the arms embargo on GCA, has no justification," the statement said.
It further noted that the US' latest move is "going beyond disrupting the balance between the two sides on the Island, the U.S. has evidently become partial."
"With such moves, the U.S. is losing its opportunity to play a constructive role for a fair, permanent and sustainable settlement of the Cyprus issue," it added.
Türkiye also vowed to continue taking "all necessary steps to ensure the security of Turkish Cypriot people," as a guarantor state.
"We support the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) regarding the issue," it added.
Last week, the US announced that under the Defense Department National Guard’s State Partnership Program, the Greek Cypriot administration has been paired with the National Guard in the US state of New Jersey.
The TRNC earlier on Monday lashed out on the US move to include the Greek Cypriot administration in the Pentagon military partnership program.
The Foreign Ministry of the TRNC said the country can "never accept the support and encouragement of the Greek Cypriot administration by the US administration in the military and political arena."
With the move, Washington, which on Sept. 16 lifted an arms embargo on the Greek Cypriot administration that had been in force since 1987, continues its provocative attitude towards the TRNC and Türkiye, according to the TRNC.
- Decades-long dispute
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN 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 of the island led to Türkiye’s military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus 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 Türkiye, Greece, and the UK.
The Greek Cypriot administration entered the EU in 2004, the same year that Greek Cypriots single-handedly blocked a UN plan to end the longstanding dispute.