Erdogan says he will bolster Turkish military presence in northern Cyprus

Erdogan says he will bolster Turkish military presence in northern Cyprus
2 min read
17 September, 2018
President Erdogan has defied calls to limit Turkey's military presence in Cyprus and said he would send more troops to the island's breakaway north.
Cyprus was divided in 1974 along ethnic lines [AFP]
Turkey said on Monday it could send more troops to northern Cyprus, despite calls for Ankara to disengage from the breakaway region of the EU state.

Speaking to reporters as he travelled back from Azerbaijan on Monday, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would not end its military presence on the divided island.

"No, we are not going to reduce the numbers of our troops. We will increase them, we are not going to decrease them," he said, according to AFP.

There are believed to be around 35,000 Turkish troops in the northern area of Cyprus, although Ankara does not provide official figures about its military presence.

Turkey invaded the north of Cyprus in 1974 following a Greek military junta-sponsored coup on the island.

There have been moves to reunify the divided country, with a Turkish military withdrawal a key demand of Greek Cypriots.

A UN-sponsored referendum on reunification in 2004 was firmly rejected by Greek Cypriots but backed by a majority of Turkish Cypriots.

"This business would have been solved" if Greek Cypriots backed the UN vote, Erdogan told reporters travelling with him on his plane.

"Henceforth we will implement the formula that we have declared for ourselves," said Erdogan, without elaborating.
Despite the heated rhetoric, Erdogan said rumours Turkey was planning to build a base on the island were not true.

"We have no need to build a base there," he said, although did not rule out the possibility of a Turkish military installation in the future.

"This issue just has a psychological dimension. In this respect, if we felt the need, we could establish a base. Our presence there is important."

Hopes were dashed in 2017 that UN-backed talks could clinch a breakthrough in reuniting the island.