35,000 Turkish troops have been in northern Cyprus since 1974. The international community deems this to be an "occupation" of a sovereign state.

Turkey does not recognize Cyprus’ Greek government, and is the only country to recognize the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north.

In November 2020 the European Union condemned as "deeply regrettable" an announcement by Turkey that it was extending the mission of a gas-exploration ship in waters disputed by Greece and Cyprus. "The latest Navtex announcements and the continued conduct of seismic survey activities by Turkey, which is affecting Greek and Cypriot maritime zones, are deeply regrettable –- especially in view of ongoing constructive attempts at all levels to create space for dialogue," the spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

"This is yet another course of action that, unfortunately, continues to create more tensions and distrust in the region instead of contributing to lasting solutions," the statement said.

It called for "dialogue in good faith and abstention from unilateral actions" to defuse a tense situation in the east Mediterranean that is undermining EU-Turkey relations.

The EU is by far the largest of Turkey's trading partners. But this month EU leaders issued a sharp warning to Mr Erdogan over Turkish exploration for gas off Cyprus. A summit statement said the EU "deplores renewed unilateral and provocative actions by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, including recent exploratory activities". EU leaders are to decide in a December summit whether to impose sanctions over Turkey's activity.

Erdogan said last month he would visit Varosha, the beach resort that had been sealed off since the Turkish invasion that saw Greek Cypriot inhabitants flee in 1974. "We can have a picnic at Varosha," Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara.mThe reopening of the ghost town on the eve of the north's October 18 election infuriated the Republic of Cyprus, which unlike Northern Cyprus is internationally recognised.