Turkish Defence Minister Akar: “You can’t get anywhere by ignoring Turkish Cypriots and Turkey”

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has underlined the role of Turkey in Cyprus, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean region, telling the international community, “You can’t get anywhere by ignoring Turkish Cypriots, and the Republic of Turkey.”

The minister made the comments during a defence press briefing on Wednesday that covered a wide range of issues, including Turkey’s recent military operations in the northern parts of Syria and Iraq.

During the briefing, the Defence Minister said that no one should not doubt Turkey’s resolve in protecting its national interests in the waters off its southern coastline, and on the island of Cyprus.

“We are determined to protect and safeguard our rights and interests in the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean, and Cyprus, as well as the rights and interests of our Turkish Cypriot brothers and sisters.

“Whatever needs to be done in this regard we have done, and will continue to do so with determination. Let no one doubt that,” Mr Akar added.

The Defence Minister commented on the lack of a comprehensive federal solution in Cyprus after half a century of talks, and recalled that it was the Greek Cypriot side who had rejected the best prospect for reunification by voting against the 2004 Annan Plan. Mr Akar said there was now no more time to waste:

“It is evident that 50 years of trying every conceivable means, there is still no solution. The South Cyprus Greek Cypriot Administration is the community that rejected the Annan Plan. At this juncture, there is no point in wasting more time by starting from the same place again.

“The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus  and the State of the Turkish Republic have made their decision on this issue. Two sovereign, independent, equal states. Everyone needs to digest, to absorb this,” the minister said.

Responding to international criticisms about Turkey’s role over Cyprus’ hydrocarbons, the minister repeated his country’s position that the wealth of Cyprus, including the offshore hydrocarbons, should be distributed be fairly and equally for the benefit of all on the island. Mr Akar said it wasn’t feasible to ignore the rights of Turkish Cypriots or the concerns of Guarantor Turkey.

“You cannot get anywhere by ignoring the Turks in Cyprus, the government of the Republic of Turkey. Turkey is a guarantor state through [international] agreements. It’s up to the other guarantors [of Cyprus] what they do or don’t do, but we, as a guarantor, are determined, as before, to make good on our rights and responsibilities.”

The Defence Minister also remarked on Greek government’s hostility towards Turkey. Mr Akar said the provocative statements from Athens contrasted sharply with the cordial relationship Turkey wanted to enjoy with its Aegean neighbour which, he claimed, commentators in Greece were increasingly also demanding from their government.

“We always tell our Greek neighbours that we favour finding political solutions to problems through peace, calmness, and dialogue within the scope of agreements, yet our Greek Cypriot neighbours persist on making provocative statements and aggressive rhetoric.”

Hulusi Akar’s comments came on the same day the European Union released a statement criticising the Turkish side for its unilateral decision to open up the ghost town of Maraş/Varosha.

Last October the public were allowed to visit the dilapidated seaside resort in Famagusta for the first time in 47 years. The area had been closed to the public following the 1974 War when its mainly Greek Cypriot residents fled.

On 20 July of this year, Ersin Tatar, the president of the TRNC, and President Erdoğan of Turkey pledged to allow the original owners to return and take ownership of their property in Maraş/Varosha in line with international law. It was not a new idea, but it provoked critical statements from the United Nations, the US, the UK and the EU.


Main image, top, of Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar making a speech to personnel assigned at the 6th Mechanised Infantry Division Command’s Main Command headquarters, 27 July 2021. Photo © Twitter / TC Milli Savunma Bakanligi