Türkiye's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar stressed that the country "prevented a massacre" in its 1974 peace operation after a Greek lawmaker accused Ankara of occupying the northern part of Cyprus.

Akar said Türkiye
Akar said Türkiye "always and persistently stated that we are in favour of solving problems through international law, good neighbourly relations and dialogue". (AA)

Türkiye's defence chief Hulusi Akar has rebuked a Greek member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly over accusations on Northern Cyprus.

Akar was addressing the opening session of a joint meeting of the NATO Mediterranean and Middle East Group on Tuesday when the Greek legislator accused Türkiye of occupying the northern part of Cyprus.

He shared Türkiye's approaches on defence and security issues, followed by a Q&A session during which he told the lawmaker: "If you call Northern Cyprus an 'occupation,' then that means you want to argue, to begin with."

Recalling the Greek Cypriot-led "massacres and coups" that took place on the island until 1974, Akar underlined that in this period, "even the lives of the (Cypriot) Greeks were in danger."

"From 1974 until now, both the south and the north have been living in peace. You have to see this. You must not be biased," Akar said, stressing that Türkiye "prevented a massacre" in its peace operation on the island.

He also emphasised that "Despite all its shortcomings, the Turkish Cypriots accepted the UN's Annan Plan as a solution in 2004. The Greek Cypriot side didn't accept it."

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A base for terrorists

In his address, Akar pointed to the presence of terrorists targeting Türkiye in Greece, including the PKK/YPG terror group and Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO), the group behind a 2016 defeated coup in the country.

He also referred to the PKK  and FETO presence in the refugee camp of Lavrion (Laurium) near Greece's capital Athens, which footage by a private Greek broadcaster recently revealed to be operating as a propaganda and training base for the terrorists. The Greek lawmaker denied this claim.

While Ankara is in an intense battle with terrorism, it is against a relationship of alliance and friendship that Greece "provides a place for the PKK/YPG, FETO," said Akar.

READ MORE: Greek Cypriot side trying to dilute negotiations over Cyprus: Türkiye

'What do you expect us to do?'

Underlining Ankara's readiness to hold talks with Greece, Akar said Türkiye "always and persistently stated that we are in favour of solving problems through international law, good neighbourly relations and dialogue." He added that after three consultative meetings, Türkiye is waiting for the Greek side to come to Ankara for a fourth one.

Responding to a question by another Greek parliamentarian who alleged that Turkish planes were flying over the Greek islands, Akar referred to April 27, when a Greek aircraft violated Turkish airspace over the country's southwest.

"After that, what do you expect us to do?" he asked, adding that Türkiye launched a retaliatory move the next day.

Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece's annexation led to Türkiye's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. 

As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983. It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Türkiye, Greece and the UK. The Greek Cypriot administration entered the EU in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted the UN's Annan plan to end the longstanding dispute. The status of the island remains unresolved.

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Source: AA