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29 May, 2024
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Turkey denies Cypriot vessel in contested waters

Nicosia says Nautical Geo has permit to be there, Ankara says area covered Turkish continental shelf


Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides was working the phones on Monday, a day after Turkey expelled a research vessel from waters west of the island, a maritime area with zones claimed by both Ankara and Nicosia.

According to the Cyprus News Agency, Christodoulides had separate phone calls with his counterparts in Israel and Malta, where the foreign ministers reportedly discussed Turkey’s latest actions in the Mediterranean.

Turkey said on Sunday it had pushed back Nautical Geo, a Maltese-flagged, Italian-operated research vessel carrying out work recently on behalf of Greece and the Republic of Cyprus.

Ankara says the activity area for Nautical Geo "covered Turkish continental shelf” while the Turkish Defense Ministry said the vessel was “taken away” but with no actual information as to how the boat was sent away.

Sunday's incident came just days before Greece and Turkey were scheduled to begin a fresh round of informal talks in Ankara to discuss their disputes

Turkish media said Ankara had come into contact with Malta and Italy through diplomatic channels, with additional reports suggesting Turkey took issue with the lack of coordination and not having been consulted on any permits for Nautical Geo.

But according to Greek media, sources inside the Cypriot Defense Ministry said that Nautical Geo had permission to conduct research inside the island’s exclusive economic zone.

"These illegal and dangerous maneuvers by Ankara both off Crete, and south-west of Cyprus are proof that the soothing noises coming out of Turkey for a while aren't being transformed, unfortunately, into action," Christodoulides said.

Sunday's incident came just days before Ankara and Athens were scheduled to begin a fresh round of informal talks in Ankara to discuss their disputes.

It also came two weeks after another Turkish warship issued a warning to Nautical Geo to prevent it from entering what Turkey considers its territorial waters.

The showdown also took place a year after tensions in the eastern Mediterranean threatened to escalate into open conflict between the NATO neighbors.

In 2020, tensions between Turkey and Greece escalated over seismic surveys in disputed waters and maritime deals in the region. For decades, Turks have been at odds with Greeks over competing territorial claims in the east Mediterranean, air space, energy, the status of some islands in the Aegean.

But a broader conflict between Greece and Turkey is also affecting the divided island of Cyprus, split between a Greek Cypriot south which is a UN and EU member and a Turkish Cypriot north recognized only by Ankara.

Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  Nautical Geo  |  Greece  |  Malta  |  Italy  |  natural gas  |  eastern Mediterranean  |  Christodoulides

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