By Elias Hazou
Ankara’s issuing of a new marine advisory for seismic research on Tuesday drew a kneejerk reaction here, despite the fact the area reserved does not encroach into Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Turkey’s new marine advisory, or NAVTEX, is effective from April 14 to May 14. The coordinates given for the reserved area lie just off the southern coast of Turkey, the latitude well north of the Cypriot EEZ.
This was confirmed to the Mail by a defence ministry official.
“All it takes is a quick look at Google Earth,” the official added.
The new seismic surveys are again being carried out by the seismic research vessel Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa.
Although the current reserved area for the Barbaros is completely different to the areas in previous marine advisories, a section of the local press wrongly reported on Wednesday that the areas were more or less identical.
The Citizens Alliance likewise jumped the gun. In a statement, the party said the new NAVTEX represents “a third invasion” of Cyprus’ EEZ, and urged the President to reconsider resuming peace talks.
The party said Turkey’s latest action is yet more proof that it is acting in bad faith, by dangling
such marine advisories over Nicosia to apply pressure on the Greek Cypriot side during the negotiations.
According to Giorgos Lillikas, head of the Citizens Alliance, it was no coincidence that the new marine advisory expires on May 14, the date on which the peace talks are expected to resume.
Neither the government nor the other parties issued a statement, evidently aware that the new NAVTEX has nothing to do with the EEZ.
In October last year, Turkey issued a marine advisory and dispatched the Barbaros into Cyprus’ EEZ, prompting President Nicos Anastasiades to pull out of the peace talks citing the infringement of the country’s sovereignty.
That advisory expired on December 31, but in early January Turkey issued a new one, again reserving areas in the eastern Mediterranean – parts of Cyprus’ maritime zone among them – from January 6 to April 6.
With UN mediation, Turkey agreed not to renew that marine advisory and withdraw the Barbaros from Cypriot waters. In turn, the fact that Cyprus itself will not be conducting offshore drilling for several months opened a window for the resumption of talks.