Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said that ending Turkey’s occupation of the north of Cyprus is a top concern and reunification without the departure of Turkish troops would be out of the question, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.
Mitsotakis made the statement during his first visit to the divided island since being elected on July 7.
The Greek prime minister also said he welcomed the upcoming meeting between Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı on August 9.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the north in response to a Greek nationalist coup aiming to unite the island with Greece.
Since then, the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus has controlled the southern two-thirds of the island, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, only recognised by Turkey, holds the northern third.
Turkey has maintained a sizeable military presence on the island since 1974, and the Greek Cypriots’ demand for their removal was a major reason for the breakdown of the last round of reunification negotiations in July 2017.
The Greek prime minister said that Nicosia can rely on support from Athens, but also from Brussels, in the event that Turkey escalates its aggressive stance on exploration off Cyprus’ coast in the eastern Mediterranean.
Tensions have been soaring in the potentially hydrocarbon-rich area around the island of Cyprus. Turkey says parts of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) set out by the Republic of Cyprus lies on its continental shelf, and opposes other drilling by the republic since it says this infringes on the rights of Turkish Cypriots.
Mitsotakis’ two-day visit to Cyprus will include more meetings with government and Church officials, and a visit to Greek armed forces on the divided island, Kathimerini said.
End of Turkish occupation of Cyprus is ‘top priority,’ Greek PM says on Nicosia visit | Kathimerini
On his first visit to Cyprus since being elected on July 7, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that ending the occupation of the divided island’s north by Turkey is a “top priority,” as reunification without the departure of Turkish troops would be “inconceivable.”