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A Turkish drone specialized in hydrocarbon exploration lands on a Turkish Cypriot base

December 16, 2019

ANKARA, Dec. 16 (Reuters / EP) –

A drone specialized in hydrocarbon resources exploration missions has landed on Monday at a Turkish Cypriot military base in northern Cyprus, a decision that could increase tensions between Greece and Turkey, a Turkish government official said.

The Turkish Cypriot government decided on Friday to catalog Gecitkale airport as a base for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, also known as drones), as reported by the Demiroren news agency. Drone operations, both armed and unarmed, will begin Monday at that airfield.

Cyprus, a member country of the European Union, remains divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the north of the island. Since then, Turkey has faced Cyprus for the sovereignty of fossil resources in the eastern Mediterranean area, where it is believed that there are natural resources.

This Monday, the head of the Turkish Defense Industry Directorate, Ismail Demir, said that the first Turkish unarmed drone has taken off from an airport in the province of Mugla, in western Turkey, and has landed at the airfield from Gecitkale first thing on Monday morning.

Turkey has started in 2019 oil and gas search operations in waters off the coast of Cyprus, with the dispatch of two survey vessels and an exploration boat with drones as escorts. The European Union has responded to Turkey's operations by denouncing that they are illegal and is preparing sanctions against the Ankara authorities.

Ankara has said that some areas where Turkish Cypriot vessels operate are in waters where Turkish Cypriots have rights or in waters that correspond to the maritime domain of their continental coast.

In November, Turkey and the internationally recognized Government of Libya signed an agreement on their maritime borders. The Government of Greece has accused Turkey of violating international legislation with that pact, to which Ankara has responded that the agreement aims to defend their rights in the region.