In the midst of flaring tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, on September 6, Turkey’s armed forces began its annual exercises called “Mediterranean storm” in the Republic of Northern Cyprus. The exercises are been held with the Turkish Cypriot Security Command. The exercises are to last till September 10.
Taking it to the official Twitter handle, Vice President Fuat Oktay tweeted, “The security priorities of our country and the TRNC [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus] are indispensable, along with diplomatic solutions in the eastern Mediterranean.”
A dispute over hydrocarbon exploration in the Mediterranean sea’s disputed waters and the extent of their continental shelves have pitted the two NATO members, Turkey and Greece, against each other.
Cyprus, which is divided between the Greek Cypriot-run south – an EU member state – and the Turkish Cypriot north, is at the centre of the confrontation between the two sides. The Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Ankara.
European Council President Charles Michel had said on September 4, that the 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 in the eastern Mediterranean.