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Six Greek F-16 Fighter Jets Take Part in Eunomia Joint Drills Off Cyprus, Reports Say

Sputnik News

13:10 GMT 27.08.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Six Greek F-16 fighter jets took part on Thursday in joint Eunomia aeronautical exercises of Greece, Cyprus, Italy and France that are taking place south of Cyprus, the Ekathimerini newspaper reported.

According to the Ekathimerini newspaper, the six planes have been spotted earlier in the day on their way to Cyprus from the Turkish side, which then unsuccessfully attempted to obstruct their return flight.

The jets joined two more F-16 deployed on Cyprus and France's Rafale fighters participating in the drills, the media said.

On 26 August, the Greek Defence Ministry said that Greece, Cyprus, Italy and France agreed to increase their joint military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean within the framework of the Quartet Cooperation Initiative, noting that the three-day joint Eunomia aeronautical exercise was part of the initiative.

Meanwhile, Turkey has issued an international Navtex alert to carry out gunnery exercises until 1 and 2 September in a disputed area in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Navtex notification comes as France, Italy, Greece and Cyprus are conducting joint military exercises near southern Cyprus. The entire area between the southern coast of Turkey and the northern coast of Cyprus has been reserved for the exercise.

The decision to hold military exercises in the area where Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis is conducting seismic exploration comes amid escalating tensions between Athens and Ankara. Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has said that this naval exercise was incompatible with maritime rules and increased tensions in the region.

Oruc Reis ship began exploration drilling in Greek-claimed waters in the Mediterranean in August. On Sunday, Turkey announced the extension of seismic exploration in the area until Thursday.

Greece has mobilised its armed forces to high alert and vowed to protect its sovereign rights by all necessary means.

Turkey's Office of Navigation, Hydrography and Oceanography also said the research vessel Oruc Reis will be extending its seismic exploration mission through 1 September. The gas prospecting mission in the eastern Mediterranean has been underway since 10 August and was set to end on 27 August. The mission is at the centre of escalating tensions with Greece, which claims the waters its exclusive economic zone.

Much of the Turkish coastline is strewn with small islands that belong to Greece, which Athens argues give it the priority overexploiting the economic resources within a radius of 200 nautical miles. Ankara, for its part, has begun disregarding the economic zone of Greece's essential ally Cyprus in its prospecting operations in the eastern Mediterranean.


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