Friday, 23 February, 2018

Greek, Turkish vessels collide again amid Cyprus gas row

The required actions in every direction are being taken regarding Turkey's actions in Cyprus' EEZ President Anastasiades says Cyprus backs EU diplomacy to end energy standoff with Turkey
Ellis Copeland | 15 February, 2018, 15:37

On Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a firm warning to the Republic of Cyprus.

"Our battleships, air force and other security forces are closely monitoring the developments in the region and are authorized to carry out any intervention", Erdogan said.

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Cyprus was taking the "necessary" steps over the matter, but seemed keen to play down any escalation.

Cyprus has insisted Turkey had breached "international law" on 11 February after Ankara's warships blocked an Italian drilling ship on course to explore for gas in the island's politically sensitive waters. He said both the government and Eni were determined to see the drilling go ahead as planned.

During Monday's call, Alfano underlined to Cavusoglu "Italy's hopes of reaching a shared solution under global law and in the interests of Eni and countries in the region, as well as the two Cypriot communities", the Foreign Ministry said. Cyprus says a Turkish notice blocking off the area for military activity violates worldwide law and is legally invalid.

While the Greek-majority Republic of Cyprus is internationally recognised, the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognised only by Ankara.

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The Cypriot government says it has a sovereign right to drill for gas and that if the search is successful, any income would be shared equitably if the island is reunified.

The incident occurred near the uninhabited Imia islets, just off the Turkish coast and a historic flashpoint in a long-running demarcation dispute. "The EU stresses the need to respect the sovereignty of member states over their territorial sea and airspace".

However, European countries still rely on Turkey as a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and as a brake to help reduce an influx of Syrian and other refugees into the bloc.

The Turkish foreign ministry's statement of the unfolding of events over the weekend reflects the vigor of the territorial claims made in 1974, during the Turkish invasion of the island nation, now a member of the European Union.

Cyprus has accused Turkey of obstructing a drilling rig from reaching an exploration area in the east Mediterranean.

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