The Eastern Mediterranean-2019 Drill, an operation carried out in coordination with observers and military personnel from several countries, is expected to conclude today.
Organized under the administration of Turkish Naval Forces Command and launched on Nov. 9, the drill included the participation of 40 observers from Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon and Qatar. Frigates and other naval crafts from Pakistan, Bulgaria, Romania, the U.S. and Jordan also participated in the Eastern Mediterranean-2019 Drill.
As a country that has significantly geared up its cooperation with Ankara, particularly in the naval sphere, Pakistan was the prominent participant in the drill, contributing with its PNS Alamgir (F260), an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, as well as a maritime patrol aircraft and a naval special forces team.
“Pakistan and Turkey enjoy close fraternal ties. As brothers in arms, Pakistan and Turkey’s navies have also maintained warm and cordial relations for decades. The interaction between the two navies include regular exercises, port calls, training exchange programs and collaboration in naval construction,” the spokesman of the Pakistani Embassy in Ankara, Abdul Akbar, told Daily Sabah.
“The PNS Alamgir’s participation in Eastern Mediterranean-2019 is a manifestation of the strong bond the two navies enjoy and our firm commitment to cooperation in the name of enhancing mutual understanding,” Akbar added.
Turkey and Pakistan signed many agreement in different fields of the defense industry, notably regarding naval forces. In May 2017, Turkish and Pakistani defense companies struck a deal for the construction of four Turkish Ada class MILGEM (National Ship) corvettes. According to the agreement, two ships will be built in Istanbul, while two others will be built in Karachi. The first pair of corvettes will join the inventory of the Pakistan Naval Forces in 2023, while the other two will be handed over in 2024.
On Nov. 11, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced on Twitter that the exercise represented the “largest ever in terms of the number of participants,” adding: “The 2019 Eastern Mediterranean Exercise is ongoing, with the participation of almost 4,700 personnel and 48 ships from 15 nations.”
Turkey has given weight to naval exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially given the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral attempts to drill in the region and accommodate a total of 13 would-be parcels within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), inviting international oil and drilling companies to operate in these areas, which are anticipated to hold rich hydrocarbon reserves.
As a guarantor on the island of Cyprus, Ankara has consistently asserted the rights of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to resources in the area.