The chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that his goal is “to see the last Turkish soldier leave” the island of Cyprus, Duvar English reports.
Robert Menendez, a Democratic senator from New Jersey, made the comments after receiving Greek Cyprus’ highest honor — the Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III — from President Nicos Anastasiades at a ceremony on Aug. 30.
Menendez has been a constant supporter of Greece and Greek Cyprus, and vocal critic of Turkey’s stance regarding the Cyprus issue.
“My commitment to this relationship, to Cyprus is deep, longstanding and will endure as long as I am a U.S. Senator. My goal is to see the last Turkish soldier leave the island,” Menendez said.
The U.S. senator’s remarks were slammed by the Turkish Cyprus, with Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu responding to them in a written statement.
Ertuğruloğlu deemed Menendez’s remarks “null and void” for the Turkish Cyprus.
“Senator Menendez, who has pioneered many draft decisions in the U.S. Senate against mother country Turkey and Turkish Cyprus and is known for his anti-Turkish sentiment, has made the remarks with the purpose of paying back to the Greek associations with whose support he won the election; his remarks are null and void for the Turkish Cyprus,” Ertuğruloğlu said.
Chairman of People’s Party (HP), Kudret Özersay, has reacted to Menendez’s statement.
Stating that “the Turkish military presence is the guarantee of peace and stability due to its deterrent effect,” Özersay said:
“US Senator Menendez said that his biggest dream is to see the last Turkish soldier leave the island. I can assure him that if this is truly his biggest dream, it will be the biggest disappointment of his life.”
The statement said: “…it seems that Mr. Menendez is in a position to fail to see that the deterrent effect of the presence of the Turkish military serve peace and stability in the region in order to gain votes from the Greek and Greek Cypriot voters and lobby groups in the USA”.