Turkey staking claims on Cyprus territory sending in warships

On February 9, shortly after discovering Calypso, the Saipem 12000 drillship homed in on a body of water east of Cyprus known as Block 3, where Eni also has exploration rights. Its intention was to bore a hole into a deposit known as the Cuttlefish prospect. It never reached its intended coordinates. Five Turkish navy frigates blocked its path. The drillship trod water until February 23, when it attempted to circumnavigate the blockade. One of the frigates threatened to ram it. The drillship turned and sailed for Morocco. During the same period, a Turkish coast guard vessel rammed a Greek one in the Aegean—an unprecedented event many analysts attribute to the discovery of Calypso.

In 2011, Turkey agreed on an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The zone claimed by the TRNC sits almost exactly on top of the zone the Republic of Cyprus had already settled on with its neighbors to the east. The zone claimed by Turkey sits on top of much of the zone Cyprus has agreed on with Egypt to the south. On the same day this agreement was signed, the TRNC signed over the rights in its zone to the Turkish state petroleum company, thus pitting Cyprus directly against Turkey in virtually all its hydrocarbon explorations.

“Turkey’s problem is that it sees that it has been left out of the bonanza, because all the interesting areas lie outside its territorial waters and EEZ,” says energy expert Stambolis. “It’s trying to create problems for Cyprus because its only hope is to take something from Cyprus. . . . So it’s very irritable right now.”

Turkey neither recognizes Cyprus’s maritime borders nor the agreements its exclusive economic zones. Nicosia manages the gas exploration in the waters it considers its own. This leads to a conflict about which the Gefira Team is reporting on a regular basis. In February we described the complex situation in connection with the gas blocks around Cyprus. Then the Turkish navy stopped the exploration ship of Italian Eni from entering Cyprus’ territorial waters by threatening to sink it. In response, Rome sent its own ships to the region.



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