Turkey begins military exercises in north Cyprus
Turkey’s armed forces has begun annual exercises in the breakaway republic of Northern Cyprus.
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 President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday raised the stakes by warning Greece.
“They will either understand the language of politics and diplomacy, or on the field through bitter experiences,” Erdogan said.
“As tensions run high, the Turkish military began its exercises called ‘Mediterranean Storm’ with the Turkish Cypriot Security Command,” Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter.
“The security priorities of our country and the TRNC are indispensable, along with diplomatic solutions in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Oktay said.
Cyprus is divided between the Greek Cypriot-run south – an EU member state – and the Turkish Cypriot north.
Erdogan and European Council President Charles Michel discussed developments in the Eastern Mediterranean on Sunday, CNN Turk reported.
Michel said on Friday that European Union leaders will decide on a “carrot and stick” approach to Turkey when they meet on September 24-25, proposing a conference to defuse tensions.
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 Athens.