Turkey-Pakistan teaming up against east Med. alliances - Kathimerini

Turkey and Pakistan’s military exercise this week in Greece’s territorial waters is a reaction by Ankara to Greek and Cypriot involvement in recent drilling for gas with Israel and Egypt, Greek newspaper Kathimerini said on Saturday.

The Ankara-Islamabad cooperation is becoming increasingly systematic with bilateral exercises earlier this year in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Pakistan now moving to the Eastern Mediterranean, it said in an editorial. 

Turkey is at odds with Cyprus and Greece over rights to exploit potentially rich hydrocarbon reserves in the region. Ankara says the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state in the north of the island, which only it recognises, has a right to a share in the reserves, while the Cypriot government says any proceeds from gas drilling will be shared fairly after a peace deal is established.

Israel, Cyprus and Greece have forged an energy-based partnership that has steadily grown following the discovery of gas deposits in the region. 

Greece and Israel are cooperating in a military exercise involving two Israeli Navy missile boats and a team of its special forces, Kathimerini said. Greek and Israeli forces have been conducting joint exercises off Greek island Crete.

Pakistan and Turkey’s joint drill this week led to violations of Greece’s territorial waters off Kastellorizo and north of Rhodes, according to Kathimerini.

In the coming weeks, Pakistan’s frigate is also expected to participate in the Turkish exercise Mediterranean Shield, the newspaper said. 

Turkey on Friday said it launched a fourth drilling operation in the eastern Mediterranean.

Ankara, which has no diplomatic relations with Greek Cyprus, disputes the EU-member state’s right to explore for natural gas, staking a claim over offshore areas Cyprus claims as its own.