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Turkey Denies Sending Warships To Oil Row Area Near Cyprus February 1, 2007

Posted by notapundit in World News.
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ANKARA (AP)–Turkey’s military chief on Thursday denied news reports that the country had dispatched military warships into the Mediterranean as a show of force against Cyprus in a dispute over oil and gas exploration rights.

Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, the military chief of staff, told reporters that Turkish warships routinely patrol the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean, but that no new force had been sent around Cyprus.

Earlier, private NTV television had reported that Turkey sent battleships to the region to show Cyprus it was determined to safeguard its rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey had warned Lebanon and Egypt on Tuesday not to press ahead with oil and gas exploration deals signed with Cyprus, saying Turkey and Turkish Cypriots also had rights in the region.

Cyprus said Wednesday it would protest to the U.N. and the European Union over Turkey’s warnings, and vowed to press ahead with a tender for the project.

Greece and Turkey remain at odds over Cyprus and over boundaries in the Aegean Sea, despite efforts in the past decade to resolve disputes and gain Greek backing for Turkey’s bid to join the E.U.

Cyprus has been divided into a Greek Cypriot south -home of the internationally recognized government -and Turkish Cypriot north since a Turkish invasion in 1974 sparked by a coup supporting union of the island with Greece.

Turkey has no diplomatic relations with the government in the south and supports a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state, recognized only by Ankara.

Turkey and Greece came to the brink of war in early 1987 over a similar oil drilling rights dispute in the Aegean Sea. A clash was averted after Turkey withdrew a seismic exploration ship and agreed not to test in contested waters if Greece did the same.

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