Without naming them, Cyprus said it has begun legal action against three foreign companies involved in Turkish-directed oil and gas drilling in the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that has worries a conflict could result.
A senior Cypriot Foreign Ministry who wasn’t named told Reuters the companies weren’t Turkish as the move comes after the legitimate government on the divided island said it had issued international arrest warrants against the crew of a Turkish drill ship, the Fatih that is anchored off the west of the island.
There were no reports of any arrests as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of consequences if any moves are made to apprehend the crew that the Cypriot government has violated the island’s sovereign waters borders.
A second Turkish ship, the Yavuz, is expected to be sent there as well and Turkey had dispatched warships in the area to protect them, as the United States and European Union called for them teo back off but were ignored.
“We have already initiated legal proceedings against companies cooperating with the TPAO,” the Foreign Ministry official said, referring to the state-owned Turkish petroleum company.
“We are determined to do the same with the Yavuz,” the official said.
Both areas are claimed by the Cypriot government as its EEZ, where it has rights to explore for hydrocarbons, backed by the US and the EU that Turkey wants to join while not recognizing the legitimate government and barring its ships and planes.
Turkey, which has unlawfully occupied the northern third of the island since a 1974 invasion, Turkey maintains an area west of Cyprus is its own continental shelf and has cited laws of the sea it otherwise doesn’t recognize either.