A Turkish Coast Guard vessel fired at a boat belonging to Cyprus’ port and marine police in the sea off Kato Pyrgos Tylliria early on Thursday.
The incident took place at around 3:30 AM during a regular patrol by the marine police to check for illegal immigrants arriving from Turkey.
According to police, a small three-member boat spotted a Turkish Coast Guard vessel about 11 nautical miles from the port of Kato Pyrgos Tyllirias.
The boat then started heading toward the fishing shelter of Tylliria, but the Turkish Coast Guard began to pursue it and fired four warning shots against it.
The Foreign Ministry was informed of the incident, police said.
“Serious provocation” by Turkey against Cyprus
Following the incident, the president of Kato Pyrgos Tyllirias community council, Nikos Kleanthous, reiterated his long-standing requests for increased patrols and checks both at sea and on land.
According to a Cyprus Mail report, he said it is “incomprehensible” that the port and marine authority of the area be equipped with only one small boat.
According to Kleanthous, “the serious provocation by a Turkish Coast Guard is part of the protection provided to the traffickers of illegal immigrants who have come out in the area of Kato Pyrgos Tillyria very often lately.”
Kato Pyrgos is the only Greek Cypriot village located on Morphou Bay; it is controlled by the Republic of Cyprus.
Due to its location, being surrounded by the Troodos Mountains, the Turkish-controlled exclave of Kokkina, and the Green Line, it is rather isolated and difficult to reach, and receives significant numbers of visitors only in August during summer vacation.
A Green Line crossing point was opened near Kato Pyrgos on October 18, 2010 to facilitate travel from there to Nicosia.
EU warns Erdogan of “a negative spiral” in Cyprus
The incident took place just a few days before the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the occupied part of Cyprus.
His visit on July 20 coincides with the anniversary of his country’s invasion of the Mediterranean island in 1974.
Erdogan described the anniversary as a “celebration of peace and freedom,” and promised to send a “strong message to the whole world” that Turkey will support the rights of the self-declared state of the Turkish Cypriots, which is not recognized by any other nation in the international community.
Speaking after a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in Brussels, where the EU foreign ministers discussed various issues, including Varosha, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged against “a negative spiral” in Cyprus.
“We are concerned about developments on the ground in Varosha,” he said. He recalled that the EU, through the European Commission and European Council presidents, has repeatedly reaffirmed the status of Varosha “and called for the Turkish authority, not to create a situation that could be against the United Nations decisions”.