Turkey Starts Delivering Water to Cyprus’ Breakaway North

suTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday inaugurated an undersea pipeline to carry fresh water from Turkey to the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of ethnically split Cyprus a project which Greek Cypriot officials have decried as a Turkish ploy to cement its grip on the island.

Erdogan and other Turkish officials symbolically turned open a large valve, starting the flow of water through the 107-kilometer (66.5-mile) pipeline at a ceremony at the Mediterranean town of Anamur, before leaving for Cyprus for a second ceremony in Cyprus marking the water’s arrival.

The project is aimed to meet the north’s irrigation and drinking waters needs for the next half century, supplying around 2.6 billion cubic feet (75 million cubic meters) of water annually.

Turkey has said the water could be shared with Greek Cypriots once the island is reunified. But Greek Cypriot officials have the pipeline violates international law, serves to “integrate” the north and to “augment Turkey’s influence and control over Cyprus.”

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and still maintains 35,000 troops in the north.

“Turkey and (north Cyprus) have been interlocked in such a way that they will never be separated,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a joyful, flag-waving crowd in Anamur.

The project comes at a time of renewed peace talks between Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

Akinci said the water would turn the drought-prone island into a “green island.”