Turkey said the United States needed to return to a neutral stance on Cyprus after Washington and Nicosia signed a deal to build a security training centre in Larnaca as part of their defence partnership.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month that the United States would lift a 33-year arms embargo on Cyprus and deepen its security cooperation with Nicosia.
During his visit to Cyprus, Pompeo said on Saturday that Washington remained “deeply concerned” about Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean, where it is at a standoff with Greece and Cyprus over maritime areas thought to be rich in natural gas.
“The memorandum of understanding will not serve peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean and will damage the solution of the Cyprus problem,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said.
It added that the recent steps by the United States increased the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
“We invite the U.S. to return to the neutrality policy it traditionally follows on the island of Cyprus and to contribute to the efforts aimed at the solution of the Cyprus issue,” the ministry said.
On Saturday, the US and Cyprus signed an MoU for the construction of a CYCLOPS training facility in Cyprus (Centre for Land, Open-seas, and Port Security).
Construction is expected to begin later this year close to the airport in Larnaca.
This will be a Cyprus-owned facility, which already has secured initial funding by the US government for the purpose of establishing and operating it.
“CYCLOPS will allow the United States and our partners to provide technical assistance in more areas related to security and safety, including customs and exports control, port and maritime security, and cybersecurity,” said the US State Department
Turkey has sent two survey vessels to separate areas in the region, drawing strong protests from both Cyprus and Greece, which say Ankara is operating on their respective continental shelves.
Turkey says it has a legitimate claim over the area.
There is no agreement between Greece and Turkey delimiting their continental shelves, while Turkey disputes any claims by Cyprus, with which it has no diplomatic relations.