Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said on Saturday that Turkey would likely block the republic’s accession to NATO.
Anastasiades at the opening ceremony of a new building of the rehabilitation center for members of the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA) was asked by reporters whether there is a chance that a discussion on Cyprus’ membership in NATO would begin.
“I think it is too early to discuss something like that. Even if the Cypriot government was willing to [apply for NATO membership], there are serious issues that would face procedural questions and, of course, an objection from the Turkish side. A consensus is required for the country to become a NATO member,” Anastasiades was quoted in a statement by the republic’s Press and Information Office as saying.
The president said that Cyprus “is a small country, we are in need of protection, of course,” adding that “the main thing is that the protection must be effective and that any decisions must be approved by the people.”
Turkey-Cyprus relations soared in 1974 after Ankara invaded the island, resulting in the northern third of the island being occupied by Turkish military forces. In November 1983, the northern part of Cyprus unilaterally declared independence as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which was recognized by Ankara.
At the same time, Turkey does not recognize the Cypriot government saying that the Republic of Cyprus ceased to exist when the intercommunal violence, that commenced in December 1963, ended Turkish Cypriot participation in the Cypriot government.