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Turkish opposition calls for another Cyprus invasion
One of Turkey’s leading opposition figures has caused alarm by calling for an invasion of Cyprus, 44 years after the Mediterranean island was partitioned.
To rapturous applause from Ankara’s parliament, Meral Aksener said "Cyprus is Turkish and will remain Turkish". She said that growing tension over a push to exploit oil and gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean could lead to open war.
"You should know that if need be the Turkish army will launch another invasion of Cyprus as it did in 1974.
Over 40,000 Turkish troops are stationed in the northern part of the island, an illegal state known as the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", recognised by no one in the world but Turkey.
Aksener, a former interior minister known as the "wolf", claimed that exploration for oil and gas by international energy companies commissioned by the Greek Cypriot government in the south of the island amounted to "imperialist activity" aimed at Ankara.
Turkey has very few natural energy resources of its own and its big energy import bill is a key factor in its wide current account deficit, Intellinews reports.
Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned foreign (US and European) oil companies against energy exploration near Cyprus, describing those defying Ankara as "bandits of the sea" who would face a similar response as its foes in Syria.
"As we made the terrorists in Syria pay, we will not leave the scene to the bandits of the sea," he said.
Amid growing unease, the US Department of State has called on Turkey to refrain from indulging in rhetoric or action that would cause further tension in the region.
But, in a sign of how fragile the situation is, the illegal regime of the north this week accused the Cyprus Government of deliberately planning provocations in the buffer zone between the two sides "to create tensions".
According to reports from Cyprus the UN peacekeeping force, which controls the buffer zone and has been tasked with mediating between both sides, said they were concerned such incidents would undermine peace and stability and upset the status quo on the island.
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