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French Frigate Patrols Cypriot Waters Near Turkish Drilling

October 14, 2019

With France’s energy giant Total drilling for oil and gas in Cyprus’ sovereign waters, near where Turkey has also sent in vessels to hunt, a French frigate warship was sent there in what Cypriot Defense Minister Savvas Angelides said was a show of support for the legitimate government.

“Let me be clear, first of all, so that no wrong messages are sent out. There is no intention to militarize the whole situation, that’s for sure,” Angelides told a local TV channel without explaining how having a warship in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) wasn’t militaristic.

The Cyprus News Agency said Cyprus and France completed a joined military exercise within the Cypriot EEZ, which Angelides said wasn’t a militarization. The FNS La Fayette, the OPV Ioannides, Special Forces of the Cyprus Navy and an AW-139 helicopter of the Cyprus Air Force, conducted a series of training exercises off the southern coast of Cyprus and within EEZ Blocks 6,7,10 and 11.

The Cypriot government, a member of the European Union that Turkey has been trying to join since 2005, complained that Turkey sent the drill ship Yavuz inside block 7, licensed to Italy’s Eni and Total in an agreement signed in September.

Turkey doesn’t recognize parts of Cyprus’ EEZA and rejected an offer from Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to share 30 percent of energy revenues with the minority Turkish-Cypriots occupying the northern third of the island since an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion.

While Angelides declined to comment on whether the frigate would enter Block 7, he told a local TV station the presence of the French Navy even in the area was a boost for Cyprus.

Turkey said it would also send warships to protect its energy vessels, leading the CEO of Eni to say he would pull out if that happens because he wants no part of what could turn into a military conflict over oil and gas.

Three of a total of five French La Fayette-class frigates have recently been upgraded with anti-submarine capabilities, with war experts saying this boosted the La Fayette to the first rank listing of warships, also said Kathimerini Cyprus.

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