Turkish diplomats and military officers walked out of a ceremony on Friday to mark the handover of command to a new NATO supreme allied commander in Europe after a delegation from Cyprus was invited to attend, Sözcü newspaper reported.
The ceremony was taking place at NATO’s military headquarters in Mons, southern Belgium. The NATO post of supreme allied commander in Europe is always held by a U.S. officer and U.S. Air Force General Tod D. Wolters was sworn in to replace General Curtis M. Scaparrotti.
Turkey opposes the participation of the Republic of Cyprus in NATO institutions as long as the Cyprus dispute is not resolved. Cyprus is not a NATO member, while Turkey joined the bloc in 1952. Turkey is the only country not to recognize the Republic of Cyprus as the legitimate government of the whole island, but instead it backs a breakaway Turkish Cypriot statelet in the north of the island which Turkish mainland troops seized in 1974.