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Turkey Plans Military Exercise Off Cyprus Amid Mediterranean Exploration Dispute

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ISTANBUL– As Mediterranean dispute between Turkey and Greece is mounting over disputed claims to exploration rights in the east Mediterranean, the former has planned military exercise off northwest Cyprus for the next two weeks.

The long-running dispute between Turkey and Greece, both NATO members, flared up after the two countries agreed rival accords on their maritime boundaries with Libya and Egypt, and Turkey sent a survey vessel into contested waters this month.

Both sides have held military exercises in the east Mediterranean, highlighting the potential for the Mediterranean dispute over the extent of their continental shelves to escalate into confrontation.

Two weeks ago Greek and Turkish frigates shadowing Turkey’s Oruc Reis oil and gas survey vessel collided, and Turkey’s Defence Ministry said Turkish F-16 jets on Thursday prevented six Greek F-16s entering an area where Turkey was operating.

On Friday night Turkey issued a Navtex notice – an advisory message to mariners – saying it would be holding a “gunnery exercise” from Saturday until Sept. 11 off northwest Cyprus.

The European Union’s top diplomat said on Friday the bloc was preparing sanctions against Turkey that could be discussed at a summit in late September in response to Ankara’s standoff with EU member Greece.

SOURCE: REUTERS