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Turkey Launches Massive Naval Drills As Tensions Rise In Mediterranean

Turkey launched its largest-ever naval drills—dubbed “Blue Homeland”—involving more than 100 vessels and thousands of soldiers. The four-day exercise is being held in the Black Sea, Aegean Sea and eastern Mediterranean, and comes amid heightened tensions with neighboring Greece and Cyprus over competing claims to natural gas deposits. In this respect, Turkey’s foreign minister announced that two ships will be sent to disputed waters off the coast of Cyprus to begin exploring for oil and gas. “Let those who come to the region from far away, and their companies, see that nothing can be done…in the Mediterranean without Turkey—we will not allow that,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said. In November, Greece, Cyprus and Italy signed a $7 billion deal to build a pipeline to transfer Israeli natural gas to the European market, a move that could undermine Turkey’s position as a primary hub for the delivery of energy from the east to west.