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Turkish PM Yıldırım renews Ankara's support for Turkish Cypriots

TURKISH PM YILDIRIM RENEWS ANKARAS SUPPORT FOR TURKISH CYPRIOTS

Turkish Premier Yıldırım attended ceremonies marking the 43rd anniversary of Turkey's 1974 intervention into the Cyprus conflict as a guarantor power and he said that Turkey would "continue protecting the rights of Turkish Cypriots.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Thursday said the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) could depend on Ankara for support and said Turkey would "continue protecting the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean".

Yıldırım was speaking in the TRNC where he attended ceremonies marking the 43rd anniversary of Turkey's 1974 intervention into the Cyprus conflict as a guarantor power.

Recent UN-backed reunification talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, plus Ankara, London and Athens, recently broke down in Switzerland amid recriminations.

Addressing a commemoration, Yıldırım said: "It is a serious contradiction and injustice that Turkish Cypriots have paid for the uncompromising approach of the Greek side for years."

Yıldırım also said it was "unfair steps" taken by the Greek Cypriot side which had encouraged deadlock in the talks.

TURKEY'S PM SAYS GREEK CYPRIOT GAS SEARCH 'DANGEROUS'
Turkey's prime minister says a Greek Cypriot search for oil and gas off Cyprus is "dangerous" and is throwing efforts to reunify the ethnically divided island into deadlock.

Binali Yildirim says Turkey sees the east Mediterranean's potential hydrocarbons wealth as an opportunity for regional cooperation.

But he called the search by the island's Greek Cypriot dominated government as "one-sided" and "badly timed."

A consortium composed of France's Total and Italy's Eni is now conducting exploratory drilling 104 miles (167 kilometers) off Cyprus' southern coast.

Turkey, which doesn't recognize Cyprus as a state, insists drilling flouts Turkish and Turkish Cypriot rights to Cyprus' mineral riches.

Yildirim was speaking Thursday in Cyprus' breakaway Turkish Cypriot north during celebrations for a 1974 Turkish invasion that followed a coup aiming at union with Greece.

TURKISH CYPRIOTS HAVE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FAILURE OF THE TALKS
TRNC President Mustafa Akıncı, Prime Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün, and Parliament Speaker Sibel Siber, as well as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavuşoğlu also attended the ceremony at the Atatürk Memorial in Lefkoşa.

President Akıncı, writing in an official memorial book, also said Turkish Cypriots "had no responsibility" for the failure of the Switzerland talks.

The Eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when Turkish soldiers interceded under Ankara's guarantor status to protect the Turkish community from unrest.

Violence broke out amid a Greek Cypriot attempt to forcibly unite Cyprus with Greece then ruled by a right-wing military junta. Turkey sent 40,000 troops -- Operation Atilla -- to the island's north.

As a result of Greek Cypriot attacks, at least 30,000 Turkish Cypriots were displaced from their villages and the whole Turkish Cypriot population was forced to seek refuge.

Negotiations over Cyprus resumed after a 2004 deal put forward by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to reunify the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities.

The plan was rejected in a referendum by the Greek portion of the island whereas Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of the Annan plan.

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