Turkey has issued a new Navtex (Notice to Mariners) stating that has reserved for ‘military training’ a large sea area off Famagusta Bay extending to within 30km of the location of an upcoming gas drill in Cyprus’ offshore bloc 3.
The notice relates a point between just 25km off Cape Greco and covers a large part of bloc 3.
At its southernmost boundary, the reserved area is reportedly just 30 km from the sea area chosen by ENI and Kogas for conducting exploratory drilling in early February.
The entire area reserved by Turkey comes within the Nicosia Flight Information Region (FIR), which is almost interchangeable with Cyprus’ Search and Rescue Area of Responsibility.
The South Cyprus authorities have issued a Navtex their own, notifying mariners to disregard the Turkish navigational warning.
Turkey in response, issued a second Navtex telling mariners to disregard the Greek Cypriot Navtex and pointing out that “The ‘Republic of Cyprus’ mentioned in NR 047/18 is not the original partnership state established in 1960.
“Therefore, activity NR FA66-0153/18 in territory, the exclusive economic zone, the continental shelf and SAR region of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is legal and in compliance with international law.”
Turkey claims that the area it reserved is part of the TRNC’s continental shelf as well as its Search and Rescue Area of Responsibility. It maintains that South Cyprus cannot unilaterally exploit its offshore natural gas resources without including the Turkish Cypriots.