Turks fire warning shots at Cypriot boat

Turks fire warning shots at Cypriot boat

Ankara’s aggressive disposition toward Nicosia was on display on Friday when a Turkish Coast Guard ship pursued and fired four warning shots at a Cypriot police boat on patrol for undocumented migrants with a three-member crew near Kato Pyrgos in the Tillyria region on the island’s northwest coast.

The fact that the incident occurred just a few days before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s much-touted fiesta-laden visit to Turkish-occupied Cyprus is seen to underscore Ankara’s hardline approach to the island republic. 

The Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that Nicosia is “calmly analyzing the facts.”

“We are not interested in playing the game of creating tension that the other side may seek, because the constant goal is to contribute to the creation of conditions that will allow the resumption of substantive talks to resolve the Cyprus issue,” a ministry spokesperson said. 

According to diplomatic circles, there is speculation that Erdogan, his far-right partner Devlet Bahceli and Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar will use the anniversary of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus  on July 20 to up the ante, but will stop short of making it practically impossible to resume negotiations on the Cyprus issue.

Nicosia has filed the necessary complaints to the European Union, the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and to individual countries.

Any act of violence in the Mediterranean “is unacceptable,” said the EU spokesperson Nabila Massrali, adding that the EU has a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and in developing a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey. Turkey is expected to make a clear commitment to good-neighborly relations and normalization of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus, she noted.

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