NICOSIA.- (CNA) — Cypriot Minister of Defence Kyriakos Mavronikolas described here o Saturday a State Department press release regarding the presence of US weapons in the Turkish army, occupying the northern part Cyprus since 1974, as ”unacceptable,” noting that such statements contribute to the worsening of the situation on the island.
Mavronikolas’ remarks came in the aftermath of the State Department’s press release that ”the presence of US-origin weapons in northern Cyprus under the command and control of the Turkish army does not raise questions under the laws of the United States.
”We regard the State Department’s press release as unacceptable and untimely,” Mavronikolas said, adding that ”this statement is provocative because it gives the possibility of recognition to the presence of the occupying army in the territories of the Republic.”
He also said that this statement was not necessary but comes in a period when the government of Cyprus is taking measures to reduce the tension along the ceasefire line, adding that the US should acknowledge the feelings of the Cypriot people concerning security, which led them to reject a UN settlement plan in April 24 referenda.
”The presence of the occupying army should not only be justified but on the contrary there should be a strong reaction on behalf of the US to the presence of US weapons in the Turkish occupying army,” Mavronikolas said.
The Cypriot Minister also confirmed the information in today’s press that the Turkish army has reinforced its powers.
He said that during in the period between January and February 2004 and in the first 20 days of July, the Turkish army brought to Cyprus new weapons, such as tanks, canons, mortars and troops, adding that, according to the latest figures, the Turkish occupying force has exceeded 40,000 soldiers.
”This concerns us especially and we are taking the necessary measures but if these actions by the Turkish army enjoy the backing or the acceptance of the US factor, we believe that this contributes to the further deterioration of the whole situation in Cyprus,” Mavronikolas noted.