Cypriot authorities responded to new Turkish Navtex by issuing a counter-Navtex, voiding the Turkish advisory and instructing mariners to disregard it.
Turkey’s navy has issued a Navtex reserving for Saturday an area of approximately 12,300 square kilometres to the west and south of the island which overlaps parts of offshore blocks 1, 5, 6 and 7 in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
According to daily Phileleftheros, the area reserved by Turkey at one point comes within five nautical miles of the site earmarked for gas drilling in block 6. Earlier this week, President Nicos Anastasiades revealed that Total and ENI plan to drill a new exploratory well in block 6 by the end of this year or early 2018.
Cyprus regards the Turkish marine advisory as illegal, not just because the drills are an incursion in the island’s territorial waters or continental shelf, but because the reserved area falls under the Republic’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Area of Responsibility.
Deputy government spokesman Viktoras Papadopoulos said that the best response to Turkish provocations in the Mediterranean are Cyprus’ regional energy alliances and the country’s joining the EU’s common defence and security policy, referring to the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) which the government decided to join earlier this week.