EU calls on Turkey to re­spect Cyprus’s EEZ

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Euro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk has called on Ankara to re­spect Cyprus’s ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity af­ter Turk­ish war­ships stopped a drill­ship be­long­ing to Ital­ian en­ergy giant ENI from ex­plor­ing for gas in Block 3 of the is­land’s ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone (EEZ).

“I call on Turkey to avoid threats or ac­tions against any EU mem­ber and in­stead com­mit to good-neigh­borly re­la­tions, peace­ful dis­pute set­tle­ment and re­spect for ter­ri­to­rial sovereignty,” Tusk said yes­ter­day af­ter a phone con­ver­sa­tion with Cyprus Pres­i­dent Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades.

The block­ade has been en­forced by at least six Turk­ish war­ships off the is­land’s south­ern coast since Satur­day morn­ing.

Ankara has is­sued a no­tice re­serv­ing ar­eas for naval ex­er­cises that in­clude Block 3 and has used this as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion not to al­low the Saipem 1200 drill­ship to ap­proach it.

Ni­cosia says the no­tice, which ex­pires on Fe­bru­ary 22, vi­o­lates in­ter­na­tional law and is legally in­valid. Ankara claims that part of Cyprus’s EEZ be­longs to its con­ti­nen­tal shelf and has ac­cused Ni­cosia of uni­lat­er­ally ex­plor­ing for gas and of ig­nor­ing the rights of Turk­ish Cypri­ots in the is­land’s oc­cu­pied north. The sit­u­a­tion has also raised con­cern in Rome as well, with the ANSAmed agency re­port­ing that the Ital­ian For­eign Min­istry is mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion at the “high­est level” and has pro­ceeded with all pos­si­ble diplo­matic ini­tia­tives to re­solve the dis­pute.

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