The South Cyprus government said on Thursday that it has taken all necessary measures in response to Turkey’s announcement about new navy drills in [South] Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), scheduled for this Saturday.
A Navtex (notice to mariners) was issued by the Turkish navy reserving an area of approximately 12,300 square kilometres southwest of Cyprus for drills on Saturday.
The reserved area overlaps with parts of offshore blocs 1, 5, 6 and 7 in the South’s EEZ. The area reserved by Turkey at one point, comes within five nautical miles of the site reserved for gas drilling in bloc 6, according to daily Greek Cypriot daily ‘Phileleftheros’. Just this week, President Nicos Anastasiades announced that Total and ENI plan to drill a new exploratory well in bloc 6 by the year’s end or early in 2018.
Deputy government spokesman Viktoras Papadopoulos said Cypriot authorities have issued their own Navtex, nullifying the Turkish advisory and instructing mariners to disregard it.
Earlier this week, the South Cyprus government decided to join the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). Papadopoulos said the best response to Turkish provocations in the Mediterranean are Cyprus’ regional energy alliances and the country’s joining the EU’s common defence and security policy.
South Cyprus regards the Turkish marine advisory as illegal, not because the naval drills are an incursion in the island’s territorial waters or continental shelf, but because the reserved area falls under the South’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Area of Responsibility.