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Defiant Turkey Reserves Cypriot Waters for Energy Drilling

Αssociated press

In this Tuesday, July 9, 2019 photo, a helicopter flies over Turkey's drilling ship, 'Fatih' dispatched towards the eastern Mediterranean, near Cyprus. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)

Unstoppable, Turkey has issued another navigational telex (NAVTEX) reserving areas within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for the Barbaros seismic vessel to continue hunting for gas and energy, defying the European Union, Greece and the United States.

The EU put soft sanctions on Turkey for operating in Cyprus’ sovereign waters but was ignored, as were US demands to back off and from Greece calling on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop provocations.

Ankara reserved an area spanning blocks 2, 9 and 13 of Cyprus’ EEZ which it claims belong to Turkish-Cypriots who have been occupying the northern third of the divided island since an unlawful 1974 invasion.

Cyprus has already licensed blocks 2 and 9 to South Korean energy company Kogas and Italy’s Eni while France’s Total was recently also given rights to these blocks. The American energy giant ExxonMobil has reported a major gas field.

With Turkish warships nearby guarding the Barbaros - Turkey said it will eventually have four ships in the part of Cyprus’ EEZ it doesn’t recognize - France said it will defend its energy company and send frigates to protect it if necessary.

As usual, Cyprus condemned the NAVTEX but has no real naval or military way to prevent Turkey from doing what it wants with the United Nations ignoring calls by President Nicos Anastasides to intervene.

Talks to reunify the island after 45 years of division collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Erdogan said they would never remove their 35,000-strong standing army and wanted the right of military intervention again.

Anastasiades has offered to share potentially lucrative energy revenues with Turkish-Cypriots in the occupied territory only Turkey recognizes but Erdogan and Akinci said they want their side to take part in the licensing procedure too among other demands.