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Cyprus calls on Turkey to cease new provocation in EEZ (Updated)

The Turkish research vessel Barbaros

The government on Wednesday said Turkey’s latest illegal Navtex for seismic survey in parts of offshore blocks 5 and 6, was not conducive to creating the positive climate necessary to restart negotiations.

The new Navtex for seismic survey until February 16 by the Barbaros was issued late on Tuesday, just a few hours after President Nicos Anastasiades had a first, informal meeting with the new Turkish Cypriot leader, Ersin Tatar.

The two leaders said they were ready and willing to participate in an informal five-party summit under UN auspices to discuss the way forward as regards the Cyprus problem. They had a difference of opinion, however, as to the solution model with Anastasiades expressing his willingness for talks based on a bizonal, bicommunal federal solution and UN resolutions, while Tatar said new ideas ought to be put on the table such as a two-state solution.

Turkey’s latest Navtex and similar actions, the government said on Wednesday, “do not contribute to the creation of a positive climate that should exist for a creative dialogue to resolve the Cyprus problem”.

The Turkish Navtex reserves part of the maritime area which has been legally demarcated between the Republic of Cyprus (RoC) and Egypt, with a bilateral EEZ boundary agreement in 2003, and concerns parts of Cyprus’ offshore blocks 5 and 6, the government said. It added that block 6 was legally licensed to European companies, Eni and Total.

The move was also condemned by the EU with European Commission and European External Action Service Spokesman Peter Stano saying Turkey’s latest Navtex announcements and the continued conduct of seismic survey activities affecting Greek and Cypriot maritime zones, were “deeply regrettable, especially in view of ongoing constructive attempts at all levels to create space for dialogue”.

Stano said this was “yet another course of action that, unfortunately, continues to create more tensions and distrust in the region instead of contributing to lasting solutions”.

The government also said that “with this completely provocative new action, Turkey continues to act as a serial violator of international law, stubbornly refusing to comply with repeated calls from the EU and the international community to stop its illegal actions and respect the RoC’s sovereign rights,” it said.

It added that this was also another sign of contempt for the EU recalling that after a thorough debate at leadership level, the European Council has taken a clear stance on the issue, urging Turkey, among other things, to refrain from unilateral actions that violate international law and the sovereign rights of EU member states. The EU leaders agreed to reassess Ankara’s conduct in December.

Earlier in the day, Cyprus issued its own Navtex calling on Barbaros to immediately cease its illegal actions within the country’s EEZ.

In its Navtex, the government said the Turkish one on seismic survey until February 16 by the Barbaros and its support vessels “is referring to illegal operation in the EEZ and the continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus.”

“This action constitutes a violation of the international law and maritime safety procedures and it is also a criminal offence under the laws of the Republic of Cyprus,” the Navtex said.

Ankara sent on several occasions its seismic research vessel ‘Barbaros’ to Cyprus’ EEZ, following the Republic of Cyprus’ decision in 2011 to start exploratory offshore drilling.

Turkey claims part of Cyprus’ continental shelf while it maintains that hydrocarbon-related activities off the island aim at also safeguarding the Turkish Cypriots’ rights, accusing the Greek Cypriot side of trying to usurp them.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said this week that Turkey has always protected its rights and interests at sea and will continue to do so adding that it will not allow for the rights of the Turkish Cypriots to be ignored either.

 

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