A Turkish vessel fired warning shots at a Cypriot coastguard boat that was on patrol near the port of Kato Pyrgos, on the northwest coast of the contested island, Cypriot media has reported.
The shots were fired at 3.30 a.m. local time, the Cypriot news agency reported, just west of the line that divides the Republic of Cyprus from the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Euronews has reached out to the Cypriot authorities for confirmation.
An advisor to Northern Cyprus’s foreign minister’s adviser told Euronews: “There is no such incident. It did not happen. This is a lie.”
Cypriot police spokesman Christos Andreou told AFP that the patrol boat was carrying out a surveillance operation in its territorial waters to prevent illegal immigration from Turkey,
It was approached by the Turkish ship coming from the north of the island.
“The crew of three members of the patrol vessel, seeing the intentions of the Turkish Coast Guard, tried to avoid any incident and headed for the fishing port of Kato Pyrgos,” Andreou said.
About seven kilometres from the part, Turkish coastguard fired at the vessel, he said.
The Mediterranean island has been divided since its northern third was invaded in 1974 by Turkey, in reaction to a coup by Greek-Cypriot nationalists who wanted to rejoin Greece.
The incident comes a few days before the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Varosha, a city that symbolises the division of Cyprus. The seaside city, fled by its Cypriot-Greek inhabitants, has become a ghost town under the military control of Ankara.
Erdogan, whose arrival on Tuesday coincides with the 47th anniversary of the invasion, will review the tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers stationed there.
The Turkish-Cypriot authorities, supported by Turkey, want the recognition of two independent and equal states on the island. This position is rejected by the Greek Cypriots who want the reunification of the island in the form of a federal state.
Negotiations have stalled since 2017. In April, an attempt to restart talks organised by the UN ended in failure.