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Cyprus Wants UN to Stop Turkish Naval Blockade

February 25, 2018

With Turkish warships forcing an Italian energy company ship away from waters where it was licensed to drill for oil and gas, Cyprus has asked the United Nations to intervene and stop repeated violations of airspace and maritime territory.

But the UN hasn’t even uttered a statement, nor has NATO, to which Turkey belongs and as it continues to claim it owns the waters in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, wants a share of any energy revenues found there and threatened to sink the ship of the Italian company Eni, which veered off and went to Morocco instead.

Cyprus lodged a formal protest with the UN, which has done nothing, and as the Cypriot Parliament Speaker asked the international community for help. French and American companies and ExxonMobil said they would defy Turkish threats and drill in waters off Cyprus where they have licenses.

In a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who failed last year to help broker a unification deal between Cyprus and Turkey, which has unlawfully occupied the northern third since a 1974 invasion, Cyprus said that Turkish commercial aircraft have regularly and illegally been using the airport of Tympou (Ercan,) in the occupied area, the Egypt Independent reported, with Egypt having a stake in the energy exploration off the island.

The Turkish air force conducted training there in December, and Turkish warships also used closed Cypriot ports, the complaints said.

The President of Cyprus’ House of Representatives Demetris Syllouris called on the international community to exert pressure on Turkey over its “illegal provocative undertakings” within its exclusive economic zone where Turkish warships allegedly threatened Eni’s ship in an area where Turkey issued a NAVTEX warning other ships it would be conducting naval drills.

“(Turkey’s military exercises) not only create a climate of intimidation for the companies that operate in full accordance with international law in Cyprus’s EEZ and continental shelf, but also clearly result in sustaining a climate of mistrust,” Syllouris said in a letter he sent to European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and to the parliamentary speakers of EU members-states and other international bodies.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier this month that Turkey intends to explore the East Mediterranean for oil and gas. Cavusoglu considered the 2013 Egyptian-Cypriot agreement on the utilization of natural resources in the EEZ to be invalid but Egypt said it wouldn’t be forced off.

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