The European Commission has urged Turkey to refrain from friction that could damage good neighbourly relations.
Referring to the fact that Turkey has deployed a naval frigate to monitor drilling activities in South Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone, EU Commission Spokesperson Maja Kocijianic, reiterated the “long standing position of the European Commission that “communication channels should remain open” and that “parties should avoid friction that could damage neighbourly relations”.
Greek Cypriot Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides said on Friday there was no need for concern regarding Turkey’s actions in relation to the South’s offshore natural gas exploration activity.
Turkey’s provocations should be expected, the minister said and were no cause for concern. The National Guard is monitoring the situation but it did not serve the national interest to reproduce a climate of tension, he noted.
“We should not get carried away either in creating or reproducing a climate of tension, whose only objective is to scupper or postpone our energy plans,” Fokaides said. “There is no cause for concern or panic; the sooner we stop preoccupying ourselves with what is going on at the drillship on a daily basis, the better.”
Ankara announced it had dispatched a frigate to monitor a drillship conducting offshore gas exploration south of the island.
The Turkish armed forces general staff said on its website that it ordered the frigate TCG Gokceada to track the ‘West Capella’ drillship that arrived in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the early hours of Wednesday.
“The (frigate) is fulfilling its duty in the eastern Mediterranean monitoring the West Capella… which, it is assessed, may carry out drilling activities,” the military said.
Turkey, on Thursday, said it would take measures against Greek Cypriot exploration for oil or gas around Cyprus, according to its foreign minister who added that Turkish Cypriots had rights on those reserves.
Fokaides said these were Turkey’s usual moves “also seen in previous drills,” and did not rule out the possibility of the provocations continuing in a bid to create a tense climate.
“We are doing what we have to do. It is not the benefit of our national interests to militarise the matter; we are monitoring the situation closely … and remain focused on the national objective, which is the realisation of our plans,” he said.