Turkish ships drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot sovereign waters will be accompanied by drones dispatched from an airport on the occupied northern third of the island that Turkey seized in an unlawful 1974 invasion.
The Turkish Demiroren news agency reported that the self-declared Turkish-Cypriot government, that only Turkey in the world recognizes, had approved the use of drones even as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ignored international calls to stop drilling.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), both unarmed and armed, will start to take off from Gecitkale Airport as of Dec. 16, according to the report cited by the Reuters news agency, a move that could further stoke tension and fears of a conflict.
Turkey began seeking oil and gas off the coast of Cyprus earlier this year, dispatching two drill ships and an exploration vessel with UAVs escorting them for monitoring and protection and with warships dispatched to the region.
Cyprus denounced the drilling and asked the United Nations to intervene but was ignored even though UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been trying to reboot collapsed unity talks that fell apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana that had had overseen.
Turkey doesn’t recognize parts of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the East Mediterranean nor the legitimate government’s licensing of foreign companies to hunt for energy and rejected Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades’ offer to give Turkish-Cypriots 30 percent of potentially lucrative revenues.
Turkey insist that some areas of Cyprus’ EEZ are on either the Turkish continental shelf, or in areas where the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state has rights over any finds even though it’s not a recognized government anywhere else in the world.
Additional investment will also be made in the airport, Turkish-Cypriot so-called prime minister Ersin Tatar said following the cabinet decision, according to Demiroren. “The protection of Turkish Cypriot rights and interests is the main priority,” Tatar was also quoted as saying.