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The “Patria Azul 2019” exercises will last for a week and will involve the participation of 103 ships of the Turkish Navy.
Turkey has launched the largest naval exercise in the country’s history, testing its war capabilities in the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean simultaneously .
Nicknamed ” Mavi Vatan ” or ” Blue Homeland “, it will last between February 27 and March 8 and will have the participation of 103 military ships and thousands of soldiers that carry out operations in 462,000 square meters in three seas that surround the country.
According to Turkey’s Anadolu news agency , the participating warships will include destroyers, frigates, corvettes, assault ships, submarines, mine-hunting boats, patrol boats and 20 combat aircraft, military helicopters and unmanned aircraft.
While it was reported that the simulation was planned six months in advance, in accordance with NATO rules and regulations, it occurs during the increase of tensions in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean .
According to Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak , Turkey expert at the Jerusalem Strategy and Security Institute, ” one of the most important aspects of this exercise is the use of Turkey’s own production weapons . For example, the UAV ‘Bayraktar’ and ‘Anka’, the corvettes ‘Milgem’ (National War Vessel), the ‘Atak’ helicopter, the ‘Cirit’ missiles … all this can be considered as a signal to the United States that Turkey is trying to end their dependence. “
Greek media reported that the simulation is taking place amid Ankara’s plans to send a second drilling vessel to areas around the divided island of Cyprus later this week after the Turkish foreign minister , Mevlut Cavusoglu , said the country would start drilling to look for oil and gas near Cyprus in the near future.
“May those who come to the region from afar, and their companies see that nothing can be done in that region without us. Nothing can be done in the Mediterranean without Turkey, we will not allow it, “he said.
Israel maintains extensive cooperation with both Cyprus and Greece , participating in various military exercises of air, sea and land forces with the Mediterranean nations, especially after the degradation of ties with the adversary of Greece, Turkey.
“Despite the fact that simulations also take place in the Black Sea, the emphasis on the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea makes it obvious that this is a clear message for Cyprus and Greece instead of Israel,” Yanarocak told The Jerusalem post .
Turkey and Israel had been close allies in the defence industry, security cooperation, intelligence exchange and military training since the 1960’s and peaked in the 1990’s with the Cooperation Agreement Defence of 1994 and the Military Training Cooperation Agreement of 1996.
The two countries also used to participate in annual drills of the navy and the air force, but after the degradation of ties following the Mavi Marmara crisis , Ankara froze all defence industry projects and military cooperation with Jerusalem.
Instead, Jerusalem addressed the adversaries of Turkey, Greece and the Greek Cypriots, for the military exercises of the air, sea and land forces.
Israel and Cyprus and neighbouring Greece are close allies and share a number of strategic interests , such as the ambitious project to build a submarine pipeline from Israel to Cyprus and Crete to mainland Greece.
In December, the leaders of the three countries held the fifth trilateral meeting in Beer Sheba to continue discussions on a joint gas pipeline to export gas to Europe , regional issues and strengthening cooperation among Mediterranean nations.
In June, the defence ministers of the three countries held the second trilateral meeting to strengthen security and expand cooperation in cyber security, joint military drills, and search and rescue operations in the eastern Mediterranean.