ADDS MORE FROM NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL STATEMENT
By Merve Aydogan
ANKARA (AA) – Türkiye will not refrain from utilizing legitimate methods to protect its national interests in the face of Greece’s increasingly provocative actions, the country’s National Security Council said Wednesday.
The council urged all “actors encouraging Greece to arm islands that have non-military status…to exercise common sense,” according to a statement released after a four-hour meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the capital Ankara.
Noting that the recent "increased provocative actions" by Greece were addressed in detail, the council emphasized that Türkiye will not refrain from "using all kinds of legitimate methods and tools with the aim of protecting the rights and interests" of its nation.
The council also criticized the US for its recent move to lift an arms embargo on the Greek Cypriot administration, saying the decision was “contrary to the spirit of alliance” and should be revoked.
Türkiye will continue to defend the rights of Turkish Cypriots, the council asserted, while calling on the international community to recognize the independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
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 European Union in 2004, the same year that Greek Cypriots thwarted a UN plan to end the longstanding dispute.
The council also condemned Armenia’s provocations against Azerbaijan, urging Yerevan to fulfill its obligations and make efforts for peace.
Türkiye reaffirmed its "strong support" for Azerbaijan, which “strives to achieve permanent peace."
The Turkish National Security Council also noted the importance of "all actors, primarily regional countries, involved in the issue (Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict) to sincerely contribute to a permanent cease-fire rather than deepening disputes."
Relations between the former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.
Baku liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation during 44 days of clashes in the fall of 2020 which ended after a Moscow-brokered truce. The peace agreement is celebrated as a triumph in Azerbaijan.
On counter-terror efforts, the council addressed additional measures against possible attacks that PKK/KCK/YPG terrorists may carry out within the country or abroad.
Citing the latest incidents targeting security and stability in Iraq carried out by the terrorist PKK/KCK, the statement underscored the importance of joint coordination on counter-terrorism efforts.
PKK terrorists often hide out in northern Iraq and plot terrorist attacks in Türkiye, across the border.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
On the war in Ukraine, the council stressed the necessity of taking steps towards a cease-fire immediately and noted Türkiye's determined efforts for peace and to mitigate the damage as well as the humanitarian crisis caused by the war.
It further addressed the latest tensions in Libya and said they should not overshadow the peace and dialogue environment achieved in the country.
The council underlined that "fair, free and trustworthy elections, which would play an important role in the country's future, must be carried out immediately in accordance with democratic procedures."