Turkey to Give Aid to Northern Cyprus

ANKARA (Reuter)-Turkey and Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus on Friday signed an economic cooperation accord envisaging financial aid of $250 million to the northern part of the divided island–state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan said at a signing ceremony in Ankara that the aid would primarily be used in the fields of tourism–education and industry.

The signing ceremony was also attended by Dervis Eroglu–prime minister of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus–which is only recognized by Turkey.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974–when Turkish troops occupied the northern third of the island in response to a short-lived Greek Cypriot coup engineered by a junta then ruling Greece.

The Mediterranean island is the site of a heavy military build-up with 30,000 Turkish troops stationed in the north and an 11,500-strong Greek Cypriot national guard in the south.

Erbakan and Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller brushed off reports that the Greek Cypriot government was close to a deal to buy surface-to-air missiles from Russia.

"The arming of southern Cyprus does not make us concerned– because we can protect the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus with ease," Ciller told reporters.

She said that Greek Cypriots would be the ones harmed most by the arming of the Greek Cypriot military forces.

The Greek Cypriot government has kept an official silence on reports it will buy the Russian S300 missile system–also known as SA-10c.

A Cypriot defense source said on Friday the deal still had to go to parliament for approval–but the semi-government-run Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation reported that a deal will be signed on Monday.

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