NICOSIA – Already drilling for energy in Cypriot waters and planning to do the same off Greek islands, cranking up tension in the Aegean and East Mediterranean, Turkey is now said to be considering putting F-16 fighter jets on the occupied northern third of Cyprus.
They would be put at an airport, Turkey’s pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper said, “if necessary,” with fears of a conflict rising after Turkey signed a deal with Libya claiming the seas between the country.
The self-declared republic on the occupied side, where Turkey keeps a 35,000-strong standing army, designated the Lefkoniko airport, also known as Gecitkale airport as a base for both unarmed and armed unmanned drones at the request of the Turkish government.
They would be used to help Turkish ships drilling for oil and gas in parts of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that Turkey doesn’t recognize, forging ahead in defiance of Cyprus, Greece, the United States and ignoring soft European Union sanctions.
It wasn’t said what the mission would be if the F-16s are positioned on Cyprus but Turkey regularly sends fighter jets into Greek airspace in violation of international laws with no rebuke from NATO, the defense alliance to which both countries belong.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is upset the United States won’t sell his country more advanced F-35 fighter jets that could be used against Greece and Cyprus and as he authorized purchase of Russian missile defense systems that could compromise NATO as well too.