The arrival of a Turkish drone in the north on Monday and the use of Lefkoniko (Gecitkale) airport as a base for operations to aid the search for hydrocarbons off Cyprus, has been both welcomed and criticised by Turkish Cypriots.
While ‘officially’ welcomed by the ‘government’, Turkish Cypriot media on Tuesday reflected a mixed response to the move by Ankara with plenty of backlash against the decision to allow the airport to be used for military purposes.
The drone, which arrived in Cyprus in the morning on Monday, was flown out on a mission immediately.
“Drone go home” was the title in Afrika newspaper quoting Sener Elcil, the general-secretary of Ktos, the Turkish Cypriot Teachers’ Union. “The transformation of Lefkonoiko airport into a military base and the military advances made by Turkey with the excuse that the Greek Cypriot side was in an arms race and the British were using its bases to launch attacks is a direct attack on those supporting peace in Cyprus,” he said.
Ktos criticised both Turkey and the Greek Cypriots for their arms policies saying the authorities on both sides of the divide were advocating policies that would lead to war.
According to another newspaper, Halkın Sesi, the Cyprus Socialist Party (KSP) criticised the decision, saying the Turkish Cypriot people did not want to take sides in the war in the Middle East. It also said the island should be cleared of all foreign forces, nuclear warheads, fighter planes and UAVs. The Left Movement (SH) said Turkish Cypriots wanted neither drones nor military bases on the island.
The leader of the Communal Democracy Party (TDP) Cemal Ozyigit said the ‘government should have consulted or at least informed the Turkish Cypriot parties before such a decision was taken’.
The leader of the United Cyprus Party (ΒΚΡ) Izzet Izcan said the drones would increase tension in the area. He also underlined the need for the Cyprus negotiations process to start as soon as possible to create a demilitarised Cyprus.
Meanwhile Havadis reported the possibility of a naval base at Trikomo, also in the north, an area that had previously been earmarked as a green zone in a tourist area. The ‘tourism ministry’ said there were no such plans. However, the Turkish army was planning to build new headquarters, barracks and facilities at the site, which the report said used to be an old harbour used for carob trading.