With tensions growing in the eastern Mediterranean over Turkish provocations, and refugees and migrants crossing the seas, Cyprus said it would work with Greece to establish its first Coast Guard to patrol the waters.
The announcement came from Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou after a meeting with Greek Shipping Minister Panayiotis Kouroumblis, the Cyprus Mail reported.
Nicolaou said the new Coast Guard will take on the current duties of the marine police and see its mission grow. Turkish warships are off the coast trying to keep foreign energy companies from drilling for oil and gas in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), parts of which Turkey doesn’t recognize.
Cypriots joining the Coast Guard will be trained in the same school with Greeks and the plan is for continuous education as well as that for those now in the marine police. The Coast Guard will be a separate force and operate under its own legislation.
Turkey has unlawfully occupied the northern third of the island since a 1974 invasion and claims the seas in that area.