Warships Already There, Turkey Sending Energy Vessel into Cypriot Waters

Saipem 12000 drillship. Source:Twitter/Yiorgos Lakkotrypis. (ANA)

With warships trying to keep foreign drill rigs at bay, Turkey will send the energy research vessel Barbaros again into Cyprus’ sovereign waters, cranking up the tension again in the wake of collapsed reunification talks.

Cyprus has licensed companies from the United States, France and Italy to look for oil and gas in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), parts of which Turkey doesn’t recognize and as Turkish ships forced a vessel from the Italian company Eni to turn away.

The seismographic ship of the Turkish Navy will be escorted by two support vessels, following the issue of a new NAVTEX directive by Turkey indicating it will operate unlawfully in parts of Cyprus’ EEZ with no challenge.

The Cypriot newspaper Phileleftheros published a map showing that the mission of Barbaros will be in a region starting four sea miles off the Apostolos Andreas Cape on the Karpasia peninsula, northeastern Cyprus, stretching east to the Syrian-Turkish borderline coastal point.

In the last couple of months Barbaros has also conducted seismic surveys for hydrocarbon reserves further to the northwest, in the area between the coast of Karpasia and the Turkish shore.

In an interview with Greece’s Ethnos newspaper, Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said Turkey should back off its push off Cyprus, where the two countries, along with the United Kingdom, are guarantors of security.

Turkey has unlawfully occupied the northern third since a 1974 invasion and decades of diplomacy have failed to find a solution, the latest effort in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana falling apart when Turkey refused to remove an army on the occupied territory and wanted the right to militarily intervene.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has asked the international community for help but has gotten only press releases in support from the European Union to which his country belongs and Turkey wants to join, and from the United States.