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Reports of Planned Turkish Naval Base Stokes Tension Between Greek, Turkish Cypriots

Reports of Planned Turkish Naval Base Stokes Tension Between Greek, Turkish Cypriots

ISTANBUL : Tensions between Greece and Turkey over the divided island of Cyprus are rising. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is accusing the Greek Cypriots of pursuing “aggressive” policies, while local media report Ankara is planning to build a naval base on the Turkish side of the Mediterranean island.

On Monday, Turkish newspapers allied with Erdogan reported a naval base could be constructed by 2019 on the Turkish Cypriot side of the island. “It (the report on the naval base) should be taken seriously,” said international relations professor Serhat Guvenc of Istanbul’s Kadir Has University.

“It has very many vocal advocates in the Turkish public among opinion makers. It has not become the official policy yet; however, the possibility of a base is stronger than for more than 10 or 20 years.”

Ankara has so far not denied reports of plans to build the installation. In the last few years, the Turkish military has embarked on a new policy of building permanent overseas bases, including in Somalia and Qatar. Unconfirmed reports say a Turkish naval base is also under construction on a Sudanese island in the Red Sea.