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Turkey’s Defense Minister: “We are at the same point in Cyprus that we were in 1974. No one should doubt that we will do what we did then”

Coupled with the policy of pillage, destruction and desecration of the cultural heritage of Cyprus that the Turkish occupation regime has been following since 1974, which has led to the destruction or desecration of more than 500 Greek Orthodox churches and chapels in the occupied areas of Cyprus and the illegal transfer of more than 60,000 ancient artifacts to third countries, the continuous violation of the religious freedom of the Greek Cypriots in the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” is regrettably an unacceptable reality. And now the Turkish government is threatening to invade again, in a clear threat to the unoccupied Greek Orthodox Christian portion of Cyprus.

The Turkish occupation of Cyprus continues to violate the Third Vienna Agreement of August 1975, which is still the only agreement providing for the treatment of Greek Cypriots living in the occupied areas of Cyprus. The Order of Saint Andrew calls upon Turkey to fully respect the religious freedoms of the Greek Orthodox Christians who continue to live in the northern occupied part of Cyprus and to end its threats to the rest of Cyprus. We urge the United States Government to condemn this unlawful occupation and work towards truly safeguarding the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the religious freedom, of the Orthodox Christians in all of Cyprus.

“Akar renews Cyprus invasion threat,” Ekathimerini, August 30, 2019:

Reiterating remarks he made earlier in the month, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar suggested Friday that Turkey will not hesitate to invade Cyprus again.

“We are at the same point in Cyprus that we were in 1974. No one should doubt that we will do what we did then if we have a similar situation today,” he reportedly said during an event marking the 97th anniversary of the end of the 1922 Greek-Turkish war, which is celebrated in Turkey as Victory Day.

He also expressed Turkey’s determination to continue activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean.

“We will never back down from our rights and interests,” Akar said, warning that no one should test Turkey’s power and resolve, before seeking to clarify that this should not be viewed as a threat.

At the same time, Turkey issued another navigational telex (Navtex) yesterday reserving areas from September 4 to November 1 within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for gas exploration by the Fatih drillship.

Meanwhile, Cyprus said yesterday that it will resort to the European Council to preempt plans by Turkish Cypriots in the occupied north of the island to develop the fenced-off town of Varosha.

On Thursday, the so-called foreign minister of the self-declared entity in the north, which is only recognized by Turkey, opened up the Greek Cypriot town to some 40 Turkish and Turkish Cypriot journalists, telling them he wants to “turn it into Las Vegas.”

Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides denounced the move yesterday, saying it was an affront to residents who were forced to flee in the 1974 Turkish invasion.

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