Cyprus Presses EU to Warn Turkey Over Warship IntrusionJonathan Stearns
Cyprus accused Turkey of aggression for sending warships into its waters and pressed the European Union for a “resolute reaction,” increasing political tensions over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
Cyprus used an EU summit today in Brussels to condemn the Turkish hunt for oil and natural gas off its coast. Turkey has occupied the northern third of Cyprus since 1974.
The Cypriot government says Turkey dispatched a scientific ship called Barbaros to Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone this month to scan the sea bed for signs of fuel deposits, violating its sovereignty and the rights of companies already prospecting in the area. Cyprus says the vessel was accompanied by Turkish warships.
“We are convinced that, without a strong collective message, Turkey will continue escalating the situation,” Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said in the text of remarks to fellow EU leaders that was handed out to reporters. “We have reports that Barbaros is getting more aggressive in its activities.”
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was due to present the Cypriot argument at the summit because Anastasiades fell ill earlier today in Brussels. Anastasiades was hospitalized in the Belgian capital after prolonged nosebleeds resulting from high blood pressure, according to Cypriot government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides.
The Cyprus-Turkey spat highlights the geopolitical risks of energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, as well as the obstacles to Cypriot reunification and the hurdles to Turkey’s bid to join the 28-nation EU. Because of Turkey’s seismic surveys, Cyprus has suspended reunification talks with Turkish-Cypriot leaders and plans to veto the opening of any more chapters in Turkey’s accession talks with the EU.