NEWS

Nicosia: Turks beef up troops

Cypriot Defense Minister Kyriakos Mavronicolas on Saturday accused Turkey of building up military forces in northern Cyprus at a time when Greek Cypriots are calling for demilitarization of the so-called «Green Line.» Mavronicolas said the government would protest against the move, which he said would only increase tensions. «The presence of a larger occupation force poses a specific danger to the Cyprus Republic, and this move doesn’t seem to be linked to replacements (of weapons and troops),» Mavronicolas told reporters. «This contributes to a further deterioration of the situation in Cyprus,» he said. Mavronicolas said Ankara, which has maintained an average of 35,000 troops on the island, had deployed another 4,000, as well as artillery units and tanks. «Based on the facts we have today, the occupation army exceeds 40,000 in number,» he said. Cypriot authorities say Turkey sent additional arms and troops to the north in January and February and the first 20 days of July. Mavronicolas said Nicosia would lodge a formal protest to the relevant bodies.