Government officials in the Republic of Cyprus on Friday declined to comment on reports that Turkish seismic vessel Barbaros had moved away from contested waters off Cyprus, suggesting Nicosia was in a wait-and-see mode amid reports of ongoing diplomatic efforts at the European level between Greece and Turkey.
Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa, a Turkish seismic vessel owned and operated by Turkish Petroleum Corp, has been in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone after Ankara issued a NAVTEX in the area through October 19.
But online sources appeared to show Barbaros had turned back north and then west, just north of Kyrenia, with Greek Cyprior reports saying the ship appeared to be on a westbound route but with unknown destination.
Local media reported that government officials in Nicosia said it was too early to comment on Barbaros, suggesting a statement would be made after the situation would be more clear.
Last week, another Turkish vessel had pulled away from waters off Cyprus with Cypriot government spokesman Kyriacos Koushos saying the move was a “positive step” but cautioned it was not known whether the withdrawal would be short-lived.
Government officials in Nicosia said it was too early to comment on Barbaros, suggesting a statement would be made after the situation would be more clear
Turkish drilling ships Yavuz and Barbaros have been carrying out exploratory activities in response to what Ankara calls “unilateral action” by the Republic of Cyprus and partners in the region aimed at cutting Turkey off from energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean.
Nicosia has accused Turkey of violating international law and demanded the vessels move out of the Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ.
An EU Special Council Meeting in Brussels at the beginning of the month weighed in on the dispute, calling for diplomatic dialogue and efforts to resolve the issue, including a summit with all parties directly affected by the dispute.
No new NAVTEX issued
Both drilling ships ended up being called back by Ankara a week short of the completion of their respective NAVTEX deadlines. As of Friday morning, no new navigational warnings were issued regarding the two vessels.
Barbaros’ apparent pullout comes a day after reports said the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey met in Slovakia and agreed to set a date for the start of a new round of exploratory talks between the two NATO allies.
A dispute between the two countries, known for their long and unending rivalry over boundaries, peaked this summer over warships from both sides being too close to each other.