The Turkish seismic vessel Barbaros was some 30 nautical miles off the coast of Turkey on Tuesday afternoon after leaving Famagusta port on Monday.
According to the Turkish Cypriot media, the Barbaros asked for permit to leave Famagusta port at around 3.30pm on Monday “stating that its route would be the open seas”.
Reports said the captain of the ship was expected to decide at which port in Turkey the Barbaros would dock. As of Tuesday afternoon it had not yet docked at any port, according to a website that monitors marine traffic.
On Monday, the Turkish side announced that the Barbaros was due to leave – a day after the ENI—KOGAS drillship Sapiem10000 left the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Ozdil Nami said the Turkish Cypriot side was reciprocating for the departure of the Sapiem by sending the Barbaros back to Turkey because they did not want to give the Greek Cypriot side “any excuse” not to return to the negotiating table.
The Barbaros had been anchored off Famagusta since December 30 when the first navigational telex (NAVTEX), issued in October, expired, and the vessel had carried out seismic explorations in the island’s EEZ during a two-month period. In response, the Greek Cypriot side withdrew from the talks.
A second NAVTEX was issued from January 6 until April 6 but the Barbaros did not move from Famagusta port during the three months.
The expiry of the second NAVTEX, plus the fact that ENI-KOGAS has stopped drilling and sent the Sapiem to Italy for maintenance, which is expected to take four or five months, has opened a window of opportunity for the resumption of the stalled negotiations.
UN Special Adviser for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide will be on the island on from April 6-8 to meet the two leaders separately and to possibly announce a date for the resumption of talks.