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Turkish Cypriots give UN peacekeepers ultimatum: report

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The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) has given peacekeepers on the island a deadline of one month to leave if the United Nations does not recognize its existence, Agence France-Presse reported.

Established in 1964, UNFICYP is one of the longest-running UN peacekeeping missions in existence.

“Our hospitality has its limits: either they sign a military agreement with the KKTC or they leave,” the Turkish daily Hürriyet on Wednesday quoted Turkish Cypriot foreign minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu as saying.

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

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

The KKTC was unilaterally declared in 1983 and is recognized by Turkey alone.

UNFICYP’s presence is dictated by a mandate issued by the UN Security Council, which is renewed every six months at the end of January and July.

Ertuğruloğlu said UN peacekeepers have two camps in the north.

UNFICYP, which said on Wednesday it had not received any notification from the KKTC, was established to prevent clashes between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.

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

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

In 2004, a UN plan aimed at reunifying the island was put to a referendum on both sides: it was approved by nearly 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.

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