2014-10-21 16:05:00

Tensions high as Turkish ships enter Cyprus waters in search of gas

(Vatican Radio) Tensions are mounting between Cyprus and Turkey over Ankara’s plans to begin oil and gas exploration in areas of sea licenced to the Republic of Cyprus.According to the latest reports, the Turkish vessel Barbaros is collecting seismic data after entering the exclusive economic zone of Nicosia on Monday morning.

Listen to Nathan Morley's report from Nicosia

Despite international condemnation, Ankara says it is determined to search for natural resources in the same region where Cyprus has already licensed exploratory drills.

The situation has been described by the government spokesman as ‘very serious’ and two meetings of the Cyprus national Council – an advisory body to the president – have taken place in the last 48-hours.

The Cypriot President Anastasiades has called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to convince the Turkish Government not to violate the sovereign rights of Cyprus.

The Turkish action has already struck heavy blow against the negotiations for the settlement of the island’s division, with the ongoing UN sponsored peace talks having been suspended days after Turkey announced its intention to encroach in Cypriot waters.

The government spokesman said it was impossible to say when the talks would resume.

“Nobody Knows, nobody can say,” said Nicos Christodoulides.

“We want to return back to the talks as soon as possible, that’s our aim – but we can not discuss under blackmailing or threats,” he added.

Meanwhile, Russian naval drills are ongoing off the east coast of Cyprus, as Israeli – Cypriot air, sea and rescue exercises are taking place off the west coast, however their timing has been described as co-incidental by government sources.

The island of Cyprus was split in a 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a Greek-inspired coup. Turkish Cypriots live in its north and Greek Cypriots in the south.


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