By Vassilis Nedos,
In yet another blatant violation of Cyprus’ sovereignty, Turkey on Thursday sent its Yavuz drillship to an area off the west coast of the island and within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to prospect for hydrocarbons.
The area, which is in Block 7 of the island’s EEZ, has already been licensed for exploration to the French-Italian consortium of Total and Eni.
According to reports, the Yavuz was located at a location that Turkey calls “Guzelyurt-1” on Thursday afternoon in an area claimed by Turkey.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday that Ankara was conducting activities within Turkey’s continental shelf while Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said the “Yavuz is moving toward the Guzelyurt-1 well where it will drill.”
“We will not stop making our underground resources available to our nation,” he added.
Commenting on the movements of the Yavuz, which was escorted by two Turkish frigates, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said, “We are aware of this and are taking all appropriate measures based on international law.”
Meanwhile Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and his counterpart Nikos Christodoulides were in contact Thursday to coordinate the response of Athens and Nicosia.
Before it set sail, the Yavuz had been anchored at the port of Mersin in southern Turkey after completing drilling operations off Karpasia in northern Cyprus.
Separately, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has urged Greece to contribute to “the international effort to protect critical infrastructure in the Gulf Region.”
In a tweet, Esper praised Greece as a “close friend and ally to the US.”
Officials in Athens responded that Greece is unable to contribute due to being in a state of alert in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.
However, they informed Washington that Greek military personnel in the United Arab Emirates could join teams of military observers in the Gulf area.