Tensions rose sharply between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, after the Turkish navy blocked an Italian ship’s access to gas fields off the coast of the Mediterranean island.
It all started last Friday, when the Italian energy giant ENI was stopped by Turkish vessels from landing a rig in waters claimed by the Turkish Cypriot government.
“We are trying to avoid anything that could worsen the situation, without ignoring the fact that Turkey’s actions are flouting international law,” Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said on Sunday.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry denounced the “unilateral” actions of Cyprus, which they say infringe upon “the rights of Turkish Cypriots, co-owners of the island, over its natural resources”, creating “a major obstacle to the solution of the problem.”
The island was split in two in 1974 when Turkey invaded the northern part of the island in response to a coup by Greek nationalists.
Not recognised by the international community, this part of the island depends on Turkey which subsidises it economically and maintains 35, 000 soldiers on the ground.
Nicos Christodoulides, Cypriot government spokesman, told Cyprus television on Tuesday that he was waiting on Turkish military maneuvers to come to an end in the area, scheduled for Thursday.
The Cypriot government and ENI are determined to continue exploring promising offshore gas fields.