Cyprus’ foreign ministry said today that Turkey had “politely declined” their offer to send a rescue team to help search for people trapped in collapsed buildings.
In a tweet on Friday, the ministry said the offer – which was initially accepted – “still stands” and expressed gratitude to professional rescuers “ready to save lives everywhere”.
A Cypriot team of 15 rescuers, as well as a doctor and paramedic, were on standby since Wednesday to travel to Turkey under the European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism.
Turkey does not recognize Cyprus as a state. Thousands of Turkish soldiers have been stationed in the breakaway north of the island since 1974, when it invaded after a coup aimed at unification with Greece.
Turkey is the only country that recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
The problem of the status of this territory is a stumbling block for the EU, Greece and Cyprus on the one hand and Turkey on the other.