The UN understands Cyprus’ concerns over a standoff in its exclusive economic zone caused after Turkish warships blocked exploratory drilling for gas, but reunification talks could not resume while the situation continued, it emerged on Thursday.
Speaking after a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades, UN special representative Elizabeth Spehar said they also discussed the tension in the EEZ after Turkish warships blocked a ship from carrying out exploratory drilling in an offshore field southeast of the island.
“I was here principally to listen to him, he expressed his concerns with respect to what is happening with the hydrocarbons issue. These are concerns that we understand and which we are conveying to New York,” the UN official said.
Spehar added that they also discussed the stalled reunification negotiations and the period of reflection following their collapse in Switzerland last summer.
“You might recall that the Secretary-General had recommended that all of the parties reflect after Crans Montana to see how a meaningful results-oriented process might resume,” she said. “So we had some preliminary discussions about that, and I did reassure the President that we remain available for undertaking the good offices of the Secretary-General.”
According to government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides, the president stressed that reunification talks could not resume while Turkey acted in such a way.
“You cannot talk and have such movements in the EEZ at the same time,” Christodoulides said. “Mrs. Spehar will convey the president’s ideas to the secretary-general, including his clear position on everything that we are experiencing in the republic’s EEZ.
Spehar said that she also planned to meet with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mustafa Akinci.
Last Friday Turkish warships, claiming to be participating in military drills in waters off the east of the island, stopped the Saipem 12000 drillship en route to Cuttlefish, a site in block 3 where it was scheduled to drill an exploratory gas well.
Since then, the drillship has been immobilized at a distance of approximately 50km from the target site.
A live fire exercise that was due to take place in the area later Thursday was apparently cancelled according to reports.
Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said two requests had been made to Cyprus, one by UNIFIL and one by Russia.
Because of the bad weather, UNIFIL cancelled its request so one of the two was withdrawn., he added.