Turkish Cypriots issue ultimatum to UN peacekeepers: report

The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has given peacekeepers on the island a month to leave if the United Nations does not recognize their existence.

Founded in 1964, UNFICYP is one of the longest-established UN peacekeeping missions.

“Our hospitality has its limits: either you sign a military agreement with the TRNC or you leave,” the Turkish daily Hurriyet quoted Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertugruloglu as saying on Wednesday.

“We have decided to give them another month. It is not the Greek Cypriot government that will approve your mission to the north. It’s us,” Hürriyet quoted him as saying to the UN force.

Turkish troops invaded the eastern Mediterranean island to unite it with Greece after a Greek-staged coup d’état in 1974, and tens of thousands of soldiers from mainland Turkey are still stationed in its northern third.

The TRNC was proclaimed unilaterally in 1983 and is only recognized by Turkey.

UNFICYP’s presence is mandated by a UN Security Council mandate, which is renewed every six months in late January and July.

Ertugruloglu said UN peacekeepers have two camps in the north.

UNFICYP, which said Wednesday it had received no notification from the TRNC, was set up to prevent clashes between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.

It currently has just over 1,000 employees, including nearly 750 peacekeepers.

Negotiations to resolve the Cyprus conflict have been deadlocked since 2017.

In 2004, a UN plan to reunify the island was put to a mutual referendum: it was approved by almost 65 percent of Turkish Cypriots but rejected by more than 75 percent of Greek Cypriots.

The internationally recognized government of Cyprus joined the European Union a week later.