Cyprus on Monday accused Turkey of taking “provocative and illegal” action by sending a survey boat to an area where the Cypriot government has licensed exploratory drilling for oil and gas.
Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides said the vessel was being closely monitored and that Nicosia would examine “its response to defend its rights and sovereignty.”
Nicosia is unhappy that Ankara is determined to search for oil and gas in the same region where the Cypriot government has already licensed exploratory drills in an exclusive economic zone.
Turkish troops invaded and occupied the northern third of Cyprus in 1974 in response to an Athens-engineered coup aimed at uniting it with Greece.
Ankara opposes the Cypriot government’s exploitation of offshore energy reserves before a deal is reached to solve the decades-long division of the east Mediterranean island.
Earlier this month Cyprus suspended its participation in UN-led peace talks launched in February, during which Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades was to meet Turkish Cypriot counterpart Dervis Eroglu.
Government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides told journalists a Turkish survey vessel, named Barbaros, had encroached 10 nautical miles inside the Bloc 3 area of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, off the island’s southeastern coast at Cape Greco.
Ankara had issued a notice that a Turkish seismic vessel would carry out a survey from mid-October to Dec. 30 in the same area where the Italian-Korean energy consortium ENI-Kogas is operating.
The vessel’s crew “didn’t start seismic research,” Christodoulides said.