By Muhammet Ikbal Arslan
LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (AA) – As Turkey exercises its right to carry out energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) will allow it to fly drones from a local airport, Turkish Cypriot officials announced.
In a statement Friday, the TRNC Prime Ministry said that the government approved Turkey’s use of Gecitkale Airport for unmanned aerial vehicle flights.
“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 statement said.
The airport is located in the eastern coastal city of Magusa (Famagusta).
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.
Ankara has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’s annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. -- came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.