Cyprus cries foul as Turkey deploys second drillship

Turkey’s second drillship has in the past few days entered the contested waters offshore Cyprus and is, according to reports, preparing to start drilling. The government of Cyprus has condemned the move, accusing Turkey of violating Cyprus’ sovereign rights.

The Yavuz Drillship / Image by the Turkish Energy Ministry

The Yavuz drillship, owned by Turkish national oil company TPAO is currently located in waters to the east of Cyprus, around 11 nautical miles (~20 km) to the closest mainland point.

Turkey has previously dismissed Cyprus’ and EU’s calls to show restraint when it comes to drilling in the contested waters, claiming its drillships were to drill in areas where the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus had granted licenses to TPAO in 2011.

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a self-declared state run by Turkish Cypriots and recognized only by Turkey.

While Cyprus is accusing TNRC and Turkey of violating its sovereign rights, TNRC and Turkey have accused Cyprus of unilaterally conducting oil and gas explorations without taking into considerations interests of the Turkish Cypriots, with Turkey saying it “would continue to protect the continental shelf rights of the Turkish Cypriots.” According to Turkish media reports, the Yavuz is expected to start drilling within days.

Responding to the Yavuz drillship deployment this, the government of Cyprus on Monday said:” The Government of the Republic of Cyprus strongly condemns Turkey’s new attempt, close to the Karpasia peninsula, within the Territorial Sea of the Republic.”

The Cypriot government said: “This second planned drilling, within two months from the commencement of the ongoing illegal drilling operations in the western part of Cyprus’ EEZ, constitutes an escalation of Turkey’s continued violations of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as customary International Law and constitutes a serious violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.”

The drilling operations off the west coast the government is referring to is being carried out by TPAO’s Fatih drillship, some 72.2 kilometers off the Cyprus west coast.

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Map generated by Marine Traffic on July 9, 2019.

Cyprus: Turkey violates international law


“Turkey continues to blatantly violate international law, both conventional as well as customary, flagrantly disregarding the European Union’s and the international community’s calls to cease its illegal activities and respect the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus to explore and exploit its natural resources within its maritime zones. Instead of engaging in dialogue, as the international community calls her to do, Turkey deliberately avoids doing so, in order to create new fait accomplis,” official Cyprus said.

Turkey has previously said its actions in the Eastern Mediterranean region were based on its legitimate rights stemming from international law.

“As we previously stressed on many occasions, having the longest coastal line in the region, we will protect our own rights and interests within our continental shelf, as well as those of the Turkish Cypriots around the Cyprus Island,” Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in May.

Cyprus’ government addressed these claims in a statement on Monday too.

It said: “It is indeed paradoxical that, while Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, a member state of the United Nations and the European Union, that has concluded international agreements with its neighbors, it attempts to invoke international law claiming at the same time to act upon the “licensing” of an illegal occupying regime. It is underlined, herewith, that drilling operations that are purportedly conducted on behalf of “TRNC” are illegal and null and void, as it is also the case for the secessionist entity in the occupied part of Cyprus, as provided for in the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council [541 (1983) and 550 (1984)].”

RelatedEU’s Šefčovič blasts Turkey’s ‘illegal drilling activities’ off Cyprus

“Ankara ought to realize that the only way to deal with the problems she herself creates, is through an intensive and decisive dialogue that will lead us to a solution on the basis of the relevant UN Resolutions and the principles upon which the European Union is founded. A solution that will, amongst others, address the challenges we currently face as a result of the unacceptable military occupation by Turkey.”

“The Republic of Cyprus is determined to continue to defend its legal rights to the benefit of all its legal citizens, intensifying its efforts at a legal, political and diplomatic level, using all means at its disposal, especially in the framework of the European Union. To this effect, we recall the decisions of the Council of the European Union, and in particular the Conclusions of the European Council of 20th June 2019, condemning Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and underlining the direct and serious impact that these actions have on the whole spectrum of the EU-Turkey relations, and to which the Union will respond with appropriate measures,” the government of Cyprus said.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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