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Cypriot research vessel will continue its operations, minister says

Cyprus to protest Turkish harassment of Cypriot vessel

The Cypriot research vessel that was harassed by a Turkish navy frigate on Thursday off Akamas, will continue operations, Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis said on Sunday.

The company that owns the research vessel, Kouyialis told the Cyprus News Agency, was hired by his ministry to collect information on its behalf concerning dolphins and whales in the area.

He added that it was forced by a Turkish frigate to change its course.

The vessel will continue its research programme which is expected to be completed within the coming days, Kouyialis said. The research is part of a programme of the fisheries department aiming to collect information on the marine area of Cyprus.

“It is within our obligations as an EU member-state to collect information concerning the sea,”Kouyialis said.

He added that the issue was being handled by the foreign affairs ministry.

On Thursday, a Turkish navy frigate approached the Cyprus-flagged vessel some 12 miles off the Akamas coast on the western tip of the island. The frigate reportedly contacted the vessel and demanded that it abandoned the area because it was violating Turkish territory.

Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides had said the Republic will undertake all the appropriate actions with international organisations and foreign governments.

Turkey claims it has rights in the area and has sought to disrupt natural gas exploration carried out by international energy companies who won concessions in the EEZ.

Three oil majors were involved in the third hydrocarbon licensing round – ExxonMobil, ENI, and Total.

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