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Turkey warns of military drill off Cyprus

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Turkey said it will hold a military exercise off Cyprus for the next two weeks, amid growing tensions over energy exploration rights in the east Mediterranean.

The long-running dispute between Turkey and Greece, both NATO members, flared after the two countries agreed rival accords on their maritime boundaries with Libya and Egypt, and Turkey sent a survey vessel into contested waters this month.

Ankara’s move comes after Cyprus, Greece, Italy and France conducted air and sea military drills in the region last week.

Two weeks ago, Greek and Turkish frigates shadowing Turkey’s Oruc Reis oil and gas survey vessel collided.

Turkey has issued a Navtex notice – an advisory message to mariners – saying it would be holding a “gunnery exercise” from August 29 until September 11 off northwest Cyprus (Kyrenia).

The European Union’s top diplomat said the bloc was preparing sanctions against Turkey that could be discussed at a summit in late September in response to Ankara’s standoff with EU members Cyprus and Greece.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay criticised the possible measures, which could target individuals, ships or the use of European ports in an attempt to limit Ankara’s exploration capabilities.

“It is insincere for the EU to call for dialogue on the one hand and make other plans on the other, regarding the activities we carry out in our own continental shelf in the east Mediterranean,” he said on Twitter. (source Reuters)