Turkey’s armed forces on Sunday began annual exercises in the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – an entity recognised only by Ankara – as tensions continue to rise with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey’s hunt for gas and oil reserves in waters claimed by Greece has put a huge strain on the relationship between the two NATO members. )
Turkish Vice President, Fuat Oktay, tweeted that the Turkish military began its exercises called “Mediterranean Storm” with the Turkish Cypriot Security Command even as tensions rise between the two NATO members.
The Turkish defence ministry also tweeted the military exercises, which last until Thursday, continued “successfully”.
Cyprus is divided between the Greek Cypriot-run south – an EU member state – and the Turkish Cypriot north.
Turkey has stationed tens of thousands of troops in the north of the island since its 1974 invasion, which followed a coup engineered by military rulers in Greece.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the only solution to the dispute lies through dialogue and negotiation to reach a win-win deal for sharing and has urged Athens to respect Turkey’s rights.
The Turkish leader “invited EU institutions and member states to be fair, impartial, and objective and to act responsibly on regional issues, particularly the eastern Mediterranean”, the President’s office said in a statement.