South Cyprus has initiated legal proceedings against three companies involved in gas drilling on behalf of Turkey in its so-called exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for encroaching on the island’s continental shelf,
Greek newspaper ‘Kathimerini’ reported on Tuesday. The move by South Cyprus comes as Turkey prepares to send its second vessel, the ‘Yavuz’, to drill offshore for oil and gas near North Cyprus in the coming days. The Turkish drill ship, the ‘Fatih’, has been anchored west of Cyprus since June.
Tensions between Turkey, South Cyprus and Greece have been fuelled by efforts to access rich gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. EU member states and US officials have objected to Turkey stepping up drilling operations in the region.
“We have already initiated legal proceedings against companies cooperating with the TPAO,” Kathimerini quoted a Greek Cypriot Foreign Ministry official as saying, in reference to the state-owned Turkish petroleum company.
“We are determined to do the same with the Yavuz,” the official added.
Greek Cypriot Foreign Ministry officials, while declining to name the companies, said they were not Turkish.
South Cyprus and Athens disagree with Ankara’s claims of drilling rights in the region. Turkey, the only nation to recognise the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, maintains that attempts by the South to conduct gas exploration are a violation of the rights of the Turkish part of the divided island.
Ankara claims that areas of South Cyprus’ offshore maritime zone, considered an EEZ, fall under the jurisdiction of Turkish Cypriots.