Cyprus, Turkey Duel Over Offshore Naval Exercises

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, FILE)

As they’ve done before, Cyprus and Turkey both issued NAVTEX orders claiming parts of the sea off the island for naval exercises, alerting other vessels.

Cyprus’ government said the Turkish NAVTEX was unlawful and contrary to existing international rules and regulations governing shipping and aims at specific activities in the island’s maritime area, the Cyprus Mail reported.

“It is one thing to talk about illegal moves – and when these occur we take measures – and it is another matter to see Turkish moves, which do not comply with international norms, when it comes to shipping,” government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said.

Earlier, the Commander of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, Commodore Costas Fitiris, told the Cyprus News Agency that Turkey issued a counter-NAVTEX to respond to Cyprus setting an area for the exercise west of Paphos, in international and territorial waters.

“Our area of responsibility is based on international regulations and international law,” he said, and extends from the sea area of Paphos to Kyrenia and Apostolos Andrea and this is internationally recognized.

He said that requires all countries holding exercises or other activities around Cyprus to consult with the government – which Turkey doesn’t recognize.

“For obvious reasons, Turkey, in violation of international law and regulations of international organizations, tries with illegal and provocative warnings and actions to take over the jurisdiction of the issuance of NAVTEX in areas under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Cyprus,” he said.
Turkey has unlawfully occupied the northern third of the island since a 1974 invasion, doesn’t recognize parts of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and has sent warships off the coast to prevent foreign energy companies from drilling in waters where they are licensed.