Turkish coastguard fires warning shots at Cypriot patrol vessel, police say as tensions mount

Turkey’s coastguard fired warning shots at a Cyprus patrol boat searching for undocumented migrants off the coast of the island on Friday, Cypriot police said, raising tensions ahead of the Turkish president’s visit.

While patrolling around Kato Pyrgos in the disputed northwest area of the island at 3.30am, the Turkish vessel fired warning shots at the Cypriot coastguard, according to a spokesperson for the region’s police force. The vessel had been conducting an operation to search for and prevent illegal immigration to the island before it was engaged.

In response to the incident, which Cyprus claims is the first of its kind, the island nation will lodge a formal protest with the United Nations. However, it’s not clear what powers the UN would have over the situation, since the international body’s peacekeeping authority does not extend into offshore regions of the island.

Turkey has denied that the nation’s coastguard or its vessels based in the northern part of the island fired warning shots at the Cypriot boat. Speaking to the media, the Turkish foreign minister’s adviser in Northern Cyprus declared “there [was] no such incident,” calling the allegations by Cypriot officials “a lie.”

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The incident has enflamed tensions between the two sides just days before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to visit the northern part of the island to mark the 47th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of the territory.

Erdogan’s planned trip had previously caused heightened tensions between Turkey and Cyprus, after attempts to restart UN-led negotiations over the reunification of the island earlier this year stalled. The United Nations has been seeking to engage both sides in discussions since 2017, but Cyprus has refused to agree to Turkey’s call for the recognition of two equal, independent states on the island.

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Source:RT World News

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