The Turkish media reported Saturday that Israel
and Cyprus will hold a joint military exercise next week "as means of sending a message of Turkey," whose diplomatic relations with both nations are currently at an all-time low.
According to the Turkish daily Sabah, the two's eastern Mediterranean exercise suffers from "unfortunate timing," as it may cause the already high tensions
between both Jerusalem and Nicosia and Ankara to aggravate further.
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Diplomatic Israeli sources, however, told the Cyprus Mail website that the maneuvers were "a routine exercise between allies," adding that they were devoid of any political message. Still, the Turkish media maintained that Israel and Cyprus wish to relay "a menacing message" to Ankara, following its enhanced military presence in the eastern Mediterranean.
Nicosia's Defense Ministry Spokesperson Andreas Tyrimos said that his ministry "is not participating in any exercises.”
Turkey is expected to follow the maneuvers – which will see Israeli aircrafts fly out of Greek Cyprus – very closely.
The newspaper reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak
and his Cypriot counterpart had agreed on the exercise.
Turkish media linked the drill to Turkey's mineral resources dispute with Cyprus, but the latter insists that the upcoming excise was merely a search and rescue one.