Ankara, Turkey—More troops not a new naval base is what Turkey is planning for the occupied northern half of Cyprus.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the recently speculated new naval base will not be forthcoming. But he added that “we will not decrease the number of our soldiers there, but on the contrary, we will increase them.”
Although Turkey does not officially publish the number of Turkish soldiers stationed in northern Cyprus, it is estimated by the United Nations (U.N.), which has been conducting multinational peacekeeping operations on the island ever since the Turkish invasion of 1974, that there are 35,000 Turkish servicemen.
“We do not have a base problem in northern Cyprus. It will take only minutes to reach the Mediterranean. This does not apply to Greece. We do not need to establish a base there,” added President Erdogan.
Yet an increase in troop numbers will only further frustrate the island’s reunification process.
From the Turkish-Cypriot side, Mustafa Akinci, the president of the unofficial Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), said that “Greek Cypriots thought the island belonged to them and they even wanted to join Greece. It wasn’t possible, and so it didn’t happen. Turkish Cypriots have always been pro-peace and advocate a solution with the support of Turkey.”