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Cyprus protests increase of Turkish troops in occupied areas
2002-06-15 22:07:13

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis-- United Nations, June 15 (CNA) -- The Cyprus Government has strongly protested the recent reinforcement of Turkish troops, occupying the island's northern third since 1974, with the deployment of approximately 5,500 soldiers in the occupied areas, that raised the number of the Turkish troops to over 40 thousand.

In a letter to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Cyprus' Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Sotos Zackheos said "this action flagrantly violates resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council and of other international organisations, such as the Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth, which call, inter alia, for the withdrawal of the occupation troops from Cyprus".

Zacheos called on Annan and members of the Security Council "to undertake the necessary demarches toward the Government of Turkey, so that it will immediately reverse this new fait accompli and put an end to its aggressive policy, which is contrary to the spirit and letter of the United Nations Charter". He added that the Cyprus Government would closely follow the developments on this issue, as well as, the results of these demarches.

The Cypriot diplomat noted that "between 24 May and 9 June of this year, an approximate number of 5,500 troops of the Turkish Armed Forces have arrived and were deployed in the occupied area. This considerable reinforcement of the occupation force raises the number of its troops to over 40,000."|

He also said that "the increase in Turkish troops follows other recent provocations by Turkey such as the illegal entry and conduct of research in the territorial waters and the continental shelf of Cyprus by the Turkish oceanographic vessel Piri Reis and the announcement of the subordinate local administration of the occupying power, of the extension of its so-called "territorial waters" to 12 miles."

"It is obvious that these actions constitute a deliberate attempt on the part of Ankara to create and maintain, at the local and regional level, an atmosphere of tension, fear and intimidation," Zackheos underlined and added that "this situation victimises both communities including the Turkish Cypriot population that has to live with the over-bearing presence of the Turkish occupation troops in an environment of repression and the stifling of free expression."

Zackheos recalled a statement of the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Mesut Yilmaz, published in the Turkish daily Hurriyet on 11 May 2001 that, "after ten years the number of Turkish troops we deploy in Cyprus will be greater than the number of Turkish Cypriots living there."

"The international community expects the Government of Turkey to terminate its illegal occupation and behave in a completely different and certainly more responsible manner, especially during this critical period when direct talks are held between President Clerides and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, in an effort at achieving a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem, on the basis of Security Council resolutions," Zackheos noted and stressed that "an important component of the solution will be the demilitarisation of Cyprus, as proposed by President Clerides."

"Provocations, as we have witnessed recently, demonstrate a lack of political will and raise serious questions, as to the desire of the Turkish side, to engage in these talks with good faith," he said.

President Clerides and Denktash have been engaged in UN-led direct talks since mid January this year, with a view to negotiate until a comprehensive settlement is achieved.

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