- Tension remains high between Turkey and Greece, the two neighbors and the two members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
- The exercises, called "Mediterranean Storm", will continue until Thursday
- President Nicos Anastasiades called on Turkey to agree either to present the case before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, or to international arbitration.
Ankara begins military exercises off the coast of northern Cyprus, which is under its control, in a move that may add more fuel to the fire of tension in the eastern Mediterranean. The two countries have been fighting for influence on the island of Cyprus for decade and the valuable natural resources in the region.
The Turkish Ministry of Defense today, Saturday, September 5th, 2020), said its armed forces exercises will take place off Cyprus starting tomorrow, Sunday, amid continuing tension with Greece over the disputed eastern Mediterranean waters and international efforts to mediate.
“The purpose of the exercise, which is planned every year, is to develop mutual training, cooperation, and interoperability between the Cyprus Turkish Peace Forces Command and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Security Forces Command,” the ministry added.
The ministry said in a statement that the exercises, called “Mediterranean Storm”, will continue until Thursday and will be held with the participation of elements from Turkish-administered northern Cyprus. He adding that their aim is to “improve training, cooperation and the ability to work together” between the Turkish mainland and the command of forces in the north of the divided island.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned: “They’re either going to understand the language of politics and diplomacy or in the field with painful experiences.”
“They are going to understand that Turkey has the political, economic, and military power to tear up the immoral maps and documents imposed,” Erdogan added.
The ministry added that air, sea, and ground forces would participate in the exercise. Which includes simulated air attack operations and search and rescue operations during combat.
Tension remains high between Turkey and Greece, the two neighbors and the two members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Both claim the right to explore the same part of the eastern Mediterranean, which is believed to be rich in natural resources, and Turkey sent a ship to explore weeks ago.
Cyprus is an arena for tension between the two parties, and it is divided between the south with Greek influence, which is officially known as the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, and an unrecognized Turkish north. Which was created when Turkey invaded the island in 1974 in response to a coup. Ankara calls this part of the island the “Republic of Northern Cyprus.”
On Friday, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades denounced Turkey’s “aggressiveness”, which he said was hiding “an intention to control the entire region.” In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Anastasiades accused Turkey of causing “increasing tension and exploding the situation”, calling on Turkey to agree either to present the case before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, or to international arbitration.
All attempts at dialogue collapsed this week after Turkey accused Greece of “evading dialogue and lying”, in response to statements by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis when he called on Turkey to desist from its “threats” before holding any talks sponsored by NATO.