Turkish military experts have been surveying an area in North Cyprus to determine a suitable location to establish a naval base in the north of the island, Turkish daily ‘Milliyet’ reported on Wednesday.
Establishing a new naval base will further protect Turkey’s interests in the eastern Mediterranean after the Turkish Cypriot government this month permitted Turkish drones to be deployed from Geçitkale airport, Milliyet said.
In December, 2018, Turkish Rear Admiral (Retired) Ilker Guven said that it was in Turkey’s geopolitical interest to have a naval base in North Cyprus
According to ‘Milliyet’, the Turkish military is examining a location in Yeni Iskele.
The plans include the construction of new military quarters and naval facilities, but not an ammunition store, the Turkish-Cypriot prime ministry said in response to a question raised in parliament by an MP.
Establishing a naval base in northern Cyprus will give Turkey a psychological advantage in the east Mediterranean and will allow Turkish navy’s vessels to rapidly respond to any threat against Turkish drilling ships near the island, ‘Milliyet’ said. The existence of a naval base will also speed up maintenance and repair work for naval vessels while allowing long-term deployment of naval and air elements, it said.
Cyprus has been divided since Turkey launched a peace-keeping mission on the island in 1974, in response to a coup d’etat backed by Greece’s nationalist government at the time. Turkey still maintains some 35,000 troops in the island’s in the north and says that it will not remove its soldiers until a tangible agreement to reunite the island is reached.
Turkey stepped up its efforts for exploring hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean this year, with two Turkish drilling ships accompanied by the Turkish navy operating near Cyprus.
Turkey has territorial claims that overlap with the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) declared by South Cyprus’ international recognised government and Ankara maintains that attempts by South Cyprus to conduct gas explorations are a violation of the rights of the Turkish Cypriots.