Turkey is keeping up the pressure on South Cyprus regarding its policy on unilaterally searching for gas offshore Cyprus by issuing a new Navtex (notice to mariners), effectively extending a blockade that prevents offshore drilling for natural gas by Italian energy firm ENI inside the South’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The new notice reserves the same area for military training and gunnery exercises from February 22 until March 10. The previous Navtex was due to expire on Thursday.
Two weeks ago Turkey sent warships, to the region saying that they would be participating in military drills in waters off the east of the island, blockading the Saipem 12000 drillship while en route to Cuttlefish, a site in bloc 3 where it was scheduled to drill an exploratory gas well.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades spoke on the phone with Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras about the issue, according to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).
Anastasiades, on Tuesday, met with foreign, energy and defence ministers as well as the attorney-general, under-secretary to the president, the government spokesperson and other technocrats to discuss the issue.
Turkish Cypriot energy minister Ozdil Nami accused the Greek Cypriots of fuelling tensions through their unilateral activities. The Turkish side could not be expected to “remain patient forever”, he said. The Turkish Cypriots have legitimate claims on all of the island’s offshore blocs, he noted.
A solution to the dispute over hydrocarbons can only be found in the context of a wider political settlement in Cyprus, Nami said.