The TRNC government has agreed to permit Geçitkale Airport to be used for the deployment of both armed and unarmed drones by the Turkish military.
The decision made on Friday means that Turkish drones, which have been accompanying Turkey’s drilling and surveying vessels near Cyprus, will start using North Cyprus’ Geçitkale air base as of Monday, Habertürk said.
The decision came amid escalated tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean after Turkey and the UN-recognised government of Libya signed two weeks ago a maritime boundaries accord that makes the two countries maritime neighbours.
Greece says the memorandum of understanding agreed by Ankara and Tripoli violates international law of the sea and ignores the territorial waters of some Greek islands including Crete.
Turkey had been working on deploying its unarmed and armed drones for some time, Habertürk said. A Turkish team of experts that visited the TRNC decided that Geçitkale air base, a military airport built according to NATO standards, was suitable for the deployment.
The base, completed in 1990s, served as a civilian airport between 2002 and 2004, while Ercan International Airport underwent renovations.
Turkey, as a guarantor nation for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, is currently carrying out hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean with two drilling vessels.
Prime Minister Ersin Tatar said that the Turkish army would use drones until the threats in the Eastern Mediterranean ceased.
“In light of developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region and at the request of the Turkish Cypriot Peace Forces Command, the TRNC government is allowing for activities of unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs] at Gecitkale Airport to protect Turkey’s and the TRNC’s legitimate rights and interests,” the PM’s statement said.
Before these new arrangements were agreed, Turkish Cypriot businessman Asil Nadir had contracted to use the airport commercially, however, the government citing “force majeur”, has terminated the contract and informed Nadir.
Ahval, Yeni Duzen