NEWS

Turkey flexes muscle over Aegean, Cyprus

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Keeping up the tension in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Friday sparked controversy by underscoring Ankara’s military might as his foreign minister announced that the country will start exploring for natural resources around Cyprus.

“If you don’t have enough military, political and economic might, you should know that nobody will take you seriously,” Erdogan said during a visit to a military academy in Ankara. “And we saw this during the peace operation in Cyprus and the tension in the Aegean,” he said, referring to Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

Meanwhile, speaking after a meeting with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey will start drilling around the ethnically divided island because the Greek-Cypriot government shunned Ankara’s calls for it to safeguard the rights of Turkish Cypriots. “Our second platform is coming in February. We were going to send it to the Black Sea; now we are sending it to the Cyprus area,” Cavusoglu said according to Reuters.

“Our drillship Fatih is currently in the Alanya-1 area; its work there will be done in March. We are shifting that to the south too,” he added.

Meanwhile Friday morning, Turkish fighter jets violated Greek airspace, flying over three islets near Kastellorizo in the southeastern Aegean. According to an announcement from the National Defense General Staff, a pair of Turkish F-16s flew over the islets of Megisti and Ro at an altitude of 26,000 feet at 10.48 and 10.58 a.m., exiting the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) at 11.24 a.m. They returned a few minutes later to fly over Strongyli at 22,000 feet, leaving the Athens FIR at 11.33 a.m.

In all cases, the Turkish jets were intercepted by Greek aircraft in line with international rules of engagement.