Greece slams Turkey for violating sovereign rights of Cyprus

Monday, 12 Feb, 2018

Christodoulides said Turkish warships prevented other merchant vessels from approaching the area, citing military maneuvers.

Turkey, which does not have diplomatic relations with Cyprus, claims that certain areas in Cyprus's offshore maritime zone, known as an EEZ, fall into the jurisdiction of Turkey or that of Turkish Cypriots.

"From our side, our actions reflect the necessity of avoiding anything which could escalate [the situation], without of course overlooking the violation of global law perpetrated by Turkey", Anastasiades told journalists in Nicosia.

Cyprus on Sunday accused Turkey of violating global law by blocking a drillship heading to a Cypriot offshore target to start exploratory drilling for natural gas on behalf of Italian energy giant ENI. A Turkish notice binding the area for such maneuvers expires on February 22, but Cyprus says it violates worldwide law.

The Cypriot government says it is its sovereign right to drill for gas and that any income from the hydrocarbons will be shared equitably after the island is reunified.

Italy is following the matter "at the highest level through its diplomats in Nicosia and Ankara. and following all possible diplomatic steps to resolve the question", the spokesman said.

In 2011 Cyprus and Turkey began to dispute on account of search plans for hydrocarbonsof the Republic of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone.

Turkey opposes what it says is a "unilateral" search for resources by the Cypriot government because it disregards the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the island's natural resources.

Cyprus' State television reported that ENI officials would confer with Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis, adding that a senior ENI official is expected to arrive in Nicosia on Monday for talks.

Cyprus was de facto split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of unification with Greece. A Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence is only recognized by Turkey which maintains mover 35,000 troops in the north. Peace talks collapsed past year.

"We ask Turkey not to take further action and to respect obligations under worldwide law", the statement also said, adding that "Turkey's provocative behavior" is incoherent with the behavior of a country applying for European Union membership.

"We also make use of this opportunity to strongly emphasize our expectation that companies centred in third countries refrain from supporting. this unconstructive Greek Cypriot attitude which also constitutes a major obstacle to the settlement of the Cyprus issue", it said.