Tension Ankara-Nicosia, Italy following ENI drillship case

Turkey-Cyprus clash on Mediterranean exploration

12 February, 09:50

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, FEBRUARY 12 - Tension between Cyprus and Turkey risks escalating over the case of Italian energy giant ENI's drillship in the eastern Mediterranean, which was halted Saturday by a Turkish Navy ship. Drillship Saipem 12000 was on its way to Block 6 to start its activity under a license provided by Cyprus. It is now staying put while awaiting indications. The Italian foreign ministry is following the case ''at the highest levels'' and is in contact with the Italian embassies in Turkey and Cyprus while pursuing ''all possible diplomatic steps to resolve the issue''.

    Nicosia is reassuring. ''We are managing the situation'', stressed yesterday the president of the Republic, Nicos Anastasiades, adding that the intention is to ''avoid any escalation''. However, he said, ''Turkey's actions are violating international law''. ''The government keeps calm to avoid any crisis and is taking the necessary steps so that the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus are respected'', added Anastasiades.

    The issue however still needs to be solved. Ankara yesterday, through its foreign ministry, once again criticized Nicosia over hydrocarbon drilling off its coasts calling such activity ''unilateral''. The ministry said it undermines ''inalienable rights on natural resources of Turkish-Cypriots'' and the ''stability of the region''. The government of Nicosia is acting as if it were ''the only owner of the island'', the Turkish ministry said, warning Cyprus of the possible consequences.

    The same source in Ankara also delivered the message to foreign oil companies not to support the activities of Cyprus' government. President Erdogan, after recently travelling to Italy, said he was against ENI's operations in the ''eastern Mediterranean'', expressing Turkey's ''concern'' to President Sergio Mattarella and Premier Paolo Gentiloni. (ANSAmed).

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