According to one geopolitical analyst, the arrival of Turkey’s Fatih drillship in Cyprus exclusive economic zone (EEZ) signals an escalation in the Turkey-Cyprus crisis over maritime zones and natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean, displaying Ankara’s willingness to support its geopolitical and legal claims in every possible way.
“The timing is related to the aftermath of the Exxon findings in Block 10, the prospective drillings in the Cypriot EEZ, and the expected licensing of more blocks (Block 7),” Zenonas Tziarras told the Cyprus Mail.
“It might also have something to do with the rapid domestic developments (the serial killer case) in Cyprus and the upcoming European Parliament elections, which Ankara sees as preoccupying and putting pressure on the government here.”
The analyst thinks Turkey’s move has at least three objectives. First, to increase the geopolitical risk in the area and thus raise obstacles in the Republic’s energy programme, given that some energy companies might start having second thoughts about their involvement in the Cypriot EEZ.
Second, to question Cyprus’ rights to an EEZ and a continental shelf. The location of Fatih’s activity is consistent with Turkey’s claim that its own continental shelf extends up to Cypriot EEZ blocks 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7 and covers part of them.
Lastly, Ankara would like to create ‘grey areas’ with respect to national maritime zones and hinder any efforts of joint Egypt-Greece or Egypt-Greece-Cyprus EEZ delimitation.
“This development is highly unfortunate as it could potentially create new status-quo dynamics at the expense of the Republic of Cyprus’ sovereign rights in the sea.”