11:12 GMT27 September 2020
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    ANKARA (Sputnik) - Turkey and the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will hold annual five-day military exercises starting from Sunday amid Ankara-Athens tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Saturday.

    "The purpose of the exercise, which is planned every year, is to develop mutual training, cooperation and interoperability between the Cyprus Turkish Peace Forces Command and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Security Forces Command," the ministry said, as quoted by the Daily Sabah newspaper.

    Ground, air and naval forces will participate in military drills, according to the ministry.

    The Turkish-Greek tensions escalated in August after Turkey's Oruc Reis research vessel began exploration drilling in the Greek-claimed waters in the Eastern Mediterranean.

    Greece considers this territory to be its exclusive economic zone, has mobilised its armed forces to high alert, and vowed to protect its sovereign rights by all necessary means.

    Both countries accuse each other of signing illegal deals on maritime rights with third countries.

    NATO has called on its members to engage in a dialogue and Turkey has voiced support for the alliance’s initiative, while Greece has said that negotiations would be possible only after Turkish vessels would leave what Athens calls its continental shelf.

    Mediterranean Sea, Defense Ministry, military drills, North Cyprus, Turkey
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