NICOSIA — Two French fighter jets and a cargo plane landed on Cyprus where they will work with French naval forces offshore near waters where Turkey has been drilling for oil and gas.
The Cypriot newspaper Politis said the two Rafale-type fighter jets and a French Air Force C-130 cargo aircraft landed at the Andreas Papandreou airbase in Paphos as part of a defense cooperation agreement signed Aug.1.
The jets will stay for a few days in Paphos, from which they will cooperate with French naval forces in the region and patrol the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which Turkey doesn't recognize.
France and the Greek-Cypriot administration plan to conduct an airborne military exercise in September, though other countries may also participate in the drill, Turkey's state-run Anadolu News Agency said.
France and the legitimate government of Cyprus, a member of the European Union that Turkey has been trying to join since 2005, are partners in several areas and the French energy company Total is licensed to drill off the island.
Turkey and Turkish-Cypriots occupying the northern third of the island since an unlawful 1974 invasion rejected Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades' offer to give them 30 percent of potentially lucrative energy revenues.
They want to take part in the licensing of the foreign companies offshore, which also for now includes Italy's Eni and the United States' ExxonMobil, a demand adding to obstacles that prevented resumption of reunification talks.