Drill tension mounts in Mediterranean
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Photo provided by the Chief of General Staff shows Turkish jets during a drill.The waters of the eastern Mediterranean are heating up with separate war games involving the region’s biggest players, as well as a planned visit to Syria by a Russia destroyer.
Israeli media reports had said a naval exercise conducted by Israel, the U.S. and Greece was designed to counter a potential Turkish offensive against offshore Greek Cypriot oil platforms, but Turkish diplomats dismissed the story. “[The drill] does not address scenarios involving a Turkish attack. These are fabrications of the Israeli press,” the source said yesterday.
Turkey has also extended its traditionally land-based Anatolian Eagle Exercises to the Mediterranean to include the Turkish Navy for the first time ever.
Russian has also informed Turkey that one of its destroyers will travel to Syria’s Tartus port via the Bosphorus.
Parties should behave responsibly during this critical period of the Syrian crisis, Turkey’s foreign minister has warned, as a Russian navy destroyer traveled to the Syrian port of Tartus through the Bosphorus in Turkey.
Recalling U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Annan’s plan to stop the bloodshed in Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said, “In these critical days it’s important that everyone acts responsibly,” when asked if the Russian destroyer had notified Ankara about its passage through the Bosphorus, in accordance with the Montreux Convention.
Davutoğlu said Turkey had followed the rules of the Montreux Convention regarding the destroyer’s passage through the Bosphorus. “A careful attitude should be maintained on this issue,” he added.
Davutoğlu said Annan’s proposed plan, which Syria had accepted, was significant, but what was important was “not promises, but steps which become actions.” Turkey will closely monitor whether Syria keeps those promises, he said. The minister once more denied allegations that there were negotiations underway regarding an exchange for two missing Turkish journalists.
A missile destroyer left the Black Sea base of Sevastopol over the weekend headed to the Mediterranean, and will shortly arrive at the port in Syria, Russian news agency Interfax said yesterday.
Russia gave the required information to the Turkish authorities about the navy destroyer, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News. As it is “peacetime,” a notification is enough, and the Russian destroyer did not need permission to pass through the Bosphorus, the official said. The destroyer passed through the Bosphorus yesterday, according to the official.
“This will be a purely technical port call that is conducted by almost all Russian navy ships conducting exercises in the Mediterranean,” a senior source in the Russian navy told Interfax. The source said the destroyer’s crew would not be leaving the ship while it was docked.