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Turkish rants over Nikiforos dismissed

Turkish rants over Nikiforos dismissed

‘Standard fare,’ says

Defence Minister

By Menelaos Hadjicostis

TURKISH Foreign Ministry accusations that Nicosia is stoking tensions by going ahead with its Nikiforos wargames is standard fare from the region’s real troublemaker trying to mask its true face, Defence Minister Christodoulos Pashardis said.

"It’s the usual claims that have no merit," Pashardis told state television.

In a statement issued yesterday, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry accused Nicosia of jeopardizing stability in the region instead of heeding Turkish Cypriot peace overtures."

The Greek Cypriot Administration’s insistence on this attitude, which increases tension on the island and jeopardizes stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, instead of responding to the constructive steps of the Turkish Cypriot side, once again reveals the importance of Turkey’s role as a guarantor state in maintaining peace on the island," the statement said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the six-day exercise ending Sunday is taking place at a time when a Turkish Cypriot push for peace is being dashed by Nicosia’s "intransigent attitude".

"The Greek Cypriot leader Papadopoulos has rejected the constructive proposal of the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, made on 5 September 2007, which envisaged the solution of the Cyprus question by the end of 2008."

The Ministry overlooked the fact that Talat is balking at implementing the July 8 agreement he put his signature on last year, despite pressure from the UN Security Council’s permanent five members.

July 8 was designed to adequately prepare the ground for a return to full-fledged talks, but Ankara and Talat backtracked for fear it would eliminate any chance of reviving the defunct Annan Plan.

Pashardis said the Turkish Foreign Ministry is reprising its old rhetoric, underscoring that the Cyprus Republic inalienable right to carry out military manoeuvres given that a third of its territory continues to be occupied by over 40,000 Turkish troops.

Nikiforos is the island’s premier army exercise held annually to test the battle worthiness of weapons systems and to keep troop readiness and morale high.|||Turkish rants over Nikiforos dismissed
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