French persistence in commencing joint military exercises with Greek Cypriots in the international waters of the Mediterranean have added another inflammatory item to the list of problems between Ankara and Paris.
Turkey has loudly protested the decision by NATO-ally France to conduct the joint exercises, which began Monday. The Turkish Daily News learned that Ankara has issued a number of written statements to France about the incident in recent days.
In response to the protests, French officials argue their country has been conducting similar maneuvers with many other countries as well. Turkish diplomatic sources say the French attitude is simply unacceptable and designed to play on Ankara's sensitivities.
Naval and air forces from Greece, France and Greek Cyprus are participating in the controversial drills, which will last until the end of the week. The exercise is said to include search and rescue operations, and situations involving crises and the evacuation of non-combatant civilians from crisis areas.
The Greek Cypriot National Guard, formed in 1964 after civil disturbances between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, has always been considered illegitimate by Ankara. As of 1964, Turkish Cypriots were forced to abandon the original provisions of the 1960 Constitution and withdraw any further participation in the National Guard, to which they had been entitled 40 percent of total manpower.
The joint military exercise have raised more doubts in Ankara and northern Cyprus about the coming French presidency of the European Union, set to begin July 31.
The Turkish side considers the training exercises a breach of confidence only weeks before the start of new negotiations between the island's Greek and Turkish sides. "This cannot be seen as a sign good will," said Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Turgay Avcı Monday.
Turkish Daily News
Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Haziran 2008, 12:17