By Sarp Ozer
ANKARA (AA) – Some politicians in Greece are sabotaging and destroying Türkiye’s efforts and peace initiatives, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Monday.
"Certain politicians in Greece are unfortunately sabotaging and destroying our work and peace initiatives, sacrificing the rights and interests of the two countries to their own internal conflicts. At the same time, these politicians endanger the safety and welfare of their own people with their actions,” Akar told a reception marking the 39th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Akar said the Greek side continues to “do their best to disrupt the peace and stability” between the two countries.
“We have always said that we are in favor of dialogue, but we will not violate our rights and laws,” he said, adding his country will not allow any fait accompli for both the rights of Türkiye and Turkish Cypriots.
Emphasizing the sovereignty, independence, rights and laws of the TRNC and the Turkish Cypriots to create permanent peace and stability, he said: "We have all seen that there cannot be a solution unless these are accepted, and the Turkish existence is not respected."
A solution could not be reached after years of negotiations, he said, adding the issue is not the establishment of the TRNC but the recognition of this established state.
Akar said it should not be forgotten that Turkish Cypriots were persecuted until the peace operation.
He reiterated that Türkiye will continue to stand by Turkish Cypriots and support their “just cause” with the same determination.
Noting that everyone living on Cyprus island has gained comfort, peace and security with the Cyprus Peace Operation, he said there was no limit to the massacres committed until that day.
“Everyone should understand, see and acknowledge that peace and tranquility have come to the island since 1974, when the Cyprus Peace Operation was carried out,” he added.
- 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 TRNC 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.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar