Forces of Turkey and Turkish Cyprus will start an annual five-day military drill on Sunday, according to Turkey’s Defense Ministry.
The drill in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the Martyr Capt. Cengiz Topel Mediterranean Storm Exercise, was named after a Turkish Air Force pilot martyred during the inter-communal conflict on the island in 1964.
The ministry said in a statement Saturday that the annual exercise is aimed at improving mutual training, cooperation, and interoperability between the Turkish Cypriot Peace Force Command and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Security Forces Command.
The exercise will be held with air, naval, and land elements from Turkey, the statement added.
Tension is high in the Eastern Mediterranean due to efforts by Greece and other countries to block Turkish energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean and deny its maritime territory.
Making maximalist territorial claims based on small islands just kilometers away from Turkey, Greece and other countries have tried to box Turkey into its shoreline, although it has the longest coast on the Eastern Mediterranean.
Following the forcible 1963 division of the island of Cyprus by the Greek Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriots suffered under a campaign of ethnic violence.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation to Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded.
For decades, there were talks to resolve the dispute, all which ended with failure. The latest, held with the participation of the guarantor countries – Turkey, Greece, and the UK – ended in 2017 in Switzerland.
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