Cyprus Stymied By Turkish Warship, Research Vessel Incursion

NICOSIA — Cyprus says it’s considering additional ways to respond to Turkey’s planned gas search in waters where it has already licensed companies to drill.

Cyprus government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said that further “political, diplomatic and legal” steps are being weighed after a warship-escorted Turkish research vessel sailed into waters off the island’s south coast.

The steps will be announced Oct. 21 after President Nicos Anastasiades completes consultations with party leaders.

Cyprus was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus as a state and opposes its offshore energy search.

Anastasiades suspended reunification talks earlier this month after Turkey announced its gas search plans. Cyprus condemned the move as a breach of its sovereign rights and international law.

The Turkish ship entered Greece’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to explore off Cyprus on the morning of Oct. 20, the government in Nicosia said.

The Barbaros, accompanied by two support vessels, entered the Cypriot EEZ at around 6.30 a.m.

Russia is also conducting military exercises in the same area but with Cyprus’s permission. Russian navy ships are due to be operating off the island until Oct. 23.

Anastasiades was to head a meeting of Cyprus’s national council to decide how to respond to what he had said earlier, when Turkey announced the move, was an act of provocation.

Moscow has said it would stand by Anastasiades in what he called Turkish provocation. The Cypriot leader met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Milan last week.

With international companies getting licenses to explore for oil and gas off Cyprus, the Turks have said they want a share of whatever is found and plan to do their own research.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)



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