A Turkish frigate, identified as the Gökçeada, was reportedly shadowing a survey ship commissioned to begin exploratory drilling in block 11 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), part of Ankara’s stepped up pressure to force the island republic to stop hydrocarbon research in its own waters.
Turkish media on Sunday first carried the report of the Turkish warship trailing the survey vessel West Capella, hired by a Total-ENI consortium.
Accordint to Naftemporiki newspaper, Cypriot sources later said a Republic of Cyprus coast guard vessel radioed the much larger Turkish frigate to warn it against moving towards the West Capella, while a pre-drilling schedule has continuing as planned.
Turkish Cypriot news media, moreover, said Ankara is sending its own survey vessel, the “Barbaros”, to Block six of Cyprus’ EEZ, more than 70 kilometers from the southern shores of the island.
The Turkish government has repeatedly tried to threaten and block Cyprus from carrying out research and possible exploitation of hydrocarbons in its EEZ, claiming that the Turkish Cypriot community must also benefit from whatever resources are exploited. Conversely, Turkey illegally occupies 37 percent of the island republic, a chuck of land that encompasses practically all of the TC community on the eastern Mediterranean isle. The rest of the territory is under the sovereignty of the internationally recognized government.