Thursday, May 17, 2012

Turkey says Israel violates Northern Cyprus airspace

Source: Press TV

Turkey says Israel has violated the airspace of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) over an oil and gas exploration area.

The Turkish army issued a statement on Thursday, saying Israeli aircraft violated the TRNC airspace five times on May 14.

Turkish fighter jets were dispatched to chase out the Israeli planes, the statement said.

No further details were released about the May 14 incident.

Israel and the Republic of Cyprus have discovered offshore natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea. The two sides have also discussed cooperation on transporting the gas to European and Asian markets.

However, Turkey has expressed discontent with drilling operations in the seabed off Cyprus which began in 2011. Ankara says the drilling abuses the rights of TRNC to the same resources.

Turkey began its own exploratory drilling in the seabed offshore the TRNC in April, but the government of Cyprus criticized the move as illegal.

Turkey and Cyprus have been at odds since 1974, when Turkish troops occupied the northern third of Cyprus, known as the TRNC.

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