Greek Cyprus cries foul as Turkish vessel enters waters
NICOSIA - Agence France-Presse
Greek Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York. Earlier this month, Greek Cyprus suspended its participation in UN-led peace talks launched in February. REUTERS PhotoGreek Cyprus on Oct. 20 accused Turkey of taking "provocative and illegal" action by sending a survey boat to an area where the Greek Cypriot government has licensed exploratory drilling for oil and gas.
Defence Minister Chistoforos Fokaides said the vessel was being closely monitored and that Nicosia would examine "its response to defend its rights and sovereignty."
Nicosia is unhappy that Ankara is determined to search for oil and gas in the same region where the Greek Cypriot government has already licensed exploratory drills in an exclusive economic zone.
Ankara opposes the Cypriot government's exploitation of offshore energy reserves before a deal is reached to solve the decades-long division of the east Mediterranean island.
Earlier this month Greek Cyprus suspended its participation in UN-led peace talks launched in February, during which Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades was to meet Turkish Cypriot counterpart Derviş Eroğlu.
Anastasiades on Monday chaired an emergency meeting of political leaders to discuss how Greek Cyprus should respond to the Turkish action.
Satellite maps of marine traffic in the region show that a Turkish vessel, the Barbaros, had moved to around 20 nautical miles off the island's southeastern coast at Cape Greco near the exclusive economic zone.
Nicosia has licensed exploratory drills for oil and gas in the zone. Ankara does not recognize the zone and demands that Turkish Cypriots share natural resources.
The movement of the Barbaros and accompanying ships - two support vessels and a Turkish navy frigate as shown by the maps - are "provocative and illegal," Fokaides told state radio.
Nicosia is "now obliged to escalate its response to defend it rights and sovereignty," he said.
"We have already studied alternative scenarios. This move by Turkey was one of the scenarios that we studied, we are not surprised that it carried through on its threat," Fokaides said, without elaborating.
Ankara had issued a notice that a Turkish seismic vessel would carry out a survey from mid-October to December 30 in the same area where the Italian-Korean energy consortium ENI-Kogas is operating.