Turkey has issued a new Navtex (notice to mariners) which covers waters offshore Cyprus’ east, south, and western coasts from Monday to Sunday and again from 22-29 March.
The Navtex warned that a Turkish navy vessel will be towing an underwater device at that time. The delimitation of Turkey’s activities skirt an offshore bloc reserved by South Cyprus for hydrocarbon exploration.
The South, by way of response, issued its own Navtex saying that Turkey’s activities were unauthorised by South Cyprus.
Turkey has said that it is safeguarding the rights of Turkish Cypriots, but it also has its own claims inside South Cyprus’ EEZ.
In February, Turkish naval vessels blockaded Italian energy company ENI’s drillship from accessing bloc 6 of the South’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
A Navtex issued by the South, which relates to bloc 10 of its EEZ, becomes effective today. Bloc 10 is reserved of US energy company ExxonMobil. Neither of the company’s two survey vessels has sailed for that region, as yet.
TRNC Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay has said that:
“Either we will do it together – by discussing, agreeing and moving together – or things will stop, or, we (Turkish Cypriots) will do the same thing: we will start exploiting and drilling as well”.
Responding to a comment that [South] Cyprus has only licensed maritime exploration areas offshore the south of the island, where it exercises effective control, and not to the north, Ozersay countered, “Our argument on the issue of maritime areas is not based on geography. It is based on historic rights and the rights deriving from the partnership republic,” he said.