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Northern Cyprus leases land for naval base

The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) announced in its official gazette on 14 October that it had decided to lease an area of 140,002 m 2 on the northern side of the Karpas Peninsula at no cost to the security forces for military use for 30 years.

The area is approximately 70 n miles southwest of the Turkish coastal town of Mersin and 60 n miles northeast of the Cypriot town of Girne.

While the decree did not specify what was meant by military use, the TRNC has a modest coast guard force consisting of vessels measuring up to 40 m. Cypriot newspapers speculated that this land would be converted into a naval base to support the operations of Turkish warships in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey has expressed an interest in establishing a permanent naval presence on Cyprus. Turkey deployed two Bayraktar armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Geçitkale military airport for the first time in December 2019, and the presence of Turkish armed UAVs continues.

Turkish Naval Forces have a logistic base in Mersin. The nearest main naval base to Cyprus is approximately 260 n miles west in Aksaz, Marmaris. For major maintenance or overhaul operations, Turkish warships must sail to İzmir or Gölcük and leave the Eastern Mediterranean area of operations.

The French and Cypriot governments signed a letter of intent in 2019 for the use of Evangelos Florakis naval base in Mari on the southern coast of Cyprus for the French Navy. The United Kingdom has maintained the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia since Cypriot independence in 1960.

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