Wednesday, February 19th 2020 2PM °C nicosia
23-12-2019 14:58 | Read 3550 times

'Arms build-up'

TOURISM chiefs have warned that a build of military hardware and “growing tensions” in the eastern Mediterranean will hit the country’s tourism sector

'Arms build-up'


Chief Reporter

TRNC, Turkey and Libya vowed to implement a new maritime deal and the US was poised to lift a long-running arms embargo on the Greek Cypriots.

The warnings were made after the Bayraktar TB2 drone landed at Geçitkale airport, a move seen by many as part of Turkey’s efforts to “fortify” the region in favour of the TRNC and Turkey.

The unmanned aircraft arrived in North Cyprus at 5am on Monday following a five-hour journey from Dalaman.

It landed after the TRNC’s Council of Ministers decided on Friday last week to open the airport for military use.

Officials have said the drone will be used to accompany Turkish drilling vessels in the region in response to “harassment” by the Greek Cypriot side, saving “time, costs and fuel”.

Speaking to Cyprus Today, Prime Minister Ersin Tatar said the action was “essential for the security of the TRNC and Turkey”.

“Following the military [memorandum defence and maritime delineation] agreement signed between Turkey and Libya, a new map has been created against those trying to unilaterally usurp our rights in the eastern Mediterranean,” he said.

“Turkey has a 1,800km-long coast and a population of over 80 million, and maritime and international law must be respected.

“Geçitkale airport has been opened for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and armed unmanned aerial vehicles for security reasons.”

The TRNC government took the decision to allow the use of Geçitkale airport – located on the Mesaoria plain in the Gazimağusa district – for the use of the Turkish military under the “public interest” article 11 of a contract with the airport’s private owner.

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