Ankara gives green light for naval base in Cyprus - Turkish newspaper

Ankara has approved the proposal for a naval base in the north of the divided island of Cyprus which will protect Northern Cyprus' sovereignty and facilitate Turkey's rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, left-wing nationalist daily Aydınlık newspaper reported.

The news arrives as the Turkish navy has stepped up its presence around Cyprus in response to the Greek Cypriot administration pursuing energy exploration in the gas-rich Mediterranean.

Cyprus has been split between a Greek Cypriot administration in the south, recognised internationally as the government of the whole island, and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot government in the north recognised by Turkey, following a Turkish invasion of the northern third of Cyprus in 1974. UN-facilitated talks to reunify the island collapsed in July 2017.

Technical work to determine the cost, infrastructural needs and physical conditions of the base, which analysts say is a  a controversial move from Turkey, have been completed and sent to Ankara, Aydınlık said.

“As the Greek Cypriot side ignores the rights of the Turkish Cypriots and continues its aggressive policy, so we will continue to take the necessary measures,” Turkish President Recep Tayyiğ Erdogan said Sunday at a press conference at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires earlier this month,as he addressed ongoing tensions in the eastern Mediterranean over gas drilling.

The base is to span over 280,000 acres of land - which constitutes over 8 percent of Turkish Cypriot soil - Aydınlık said, featuring a naval surveillance radar center and social facilities, along with numerous other structures.

The likely location for the base will either be Famagusta, also known as Gazimağusa,  a city on the east coast Cyprus, or the Karpas Peninsula, on the far eastern stretch of Northern Cyprus.

Ankara has yet to officially confirm the construction of the base, which has been reported on by pro-government media outlets.

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