Last weekend, South Cyprus President Anastasiades met with defence minister Photiou to discuss the restructuring of the Greek Cypriot army.
Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Kibris’ has reported that the Turkish Cypriot President, Dervis Eroglu, in statements referring to the Cyprus negotiation talks which are slated for October, responded to this event by saying: “It is not possible to understand why South Cyprus, is trying to stage a show of force by continuing its armament, in a period that the negotiation talks are expected to be resumed in October and while the Turkish Cypriot side desires a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem”.
Recalling that the Turkish Cypriot side has made several calls to South Cyprus to proceed to the negotiation table in October, Eroglu added that he wanted to repeat this invitation once more.
Last week, the TRNC foreign minister, Kutlay Erk, called for the annulment of the joint air manoeuvre by South Cyprus, Greece and Israel which is planned for September in the eastern Mediterranean. In a written statement, Erk argued that the Turkish Cypriot side encounters with “astonishment and worry” such a military manoeuvre and asks “all the countries and international actors”, which are “sensitive on the issue, the area and the island of Cyprus”, to exert efforts in the direction of the annulment of this “unfortunate manoeuvre”.
Erk said the following: “As it is known, during the past few years, Toros* manoeuvre has been annulled by the Turkish Cypriot side and in return for this Nikiforos** manoeuvre [was annulled] by the Greek Cypriot side, as a sign of good will and with the target of achieving peace and stability both on the island and in the area. However, the joint manoeuvre element, which has been added to the unilateral and illegal exploration and extradition activities for natural gas and includes war scenarios, is totally contrary to the approach that targets peace both on the island and in the region”
Erk said that future peace is threatened by the revival of Greek Cypriot plans to let the Russian Federation use an airbase in Paphos and by the fact that it does not hesitate to “bring into the island a militarist structure” that includes elements which threaten peace and stability not only in Cyprus but in the entire region as well.
Prior to that, the Russians and Israel have held joint military and naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean in Nov 2011 and Israeli/South Cyprus naval excercises were held in the eastern Mediterranean in April 2013.
*Toros manoeuvre: Turkish Cypriot military exercise launched in the North in response to the Nikiforos** manoeuvre operated by the Greek Cypriots. Both sides of the island agreed to cancel these manoeuvres in 2009 to avoid creating further tension between North and South.