Turkey has sent two ships and a submarine to monitor a drilling vessel in the eastern Mediterranean, the military said on Thursday, in a move likely to increase tension with Cyprus after reunification talks failed last week.
The drilling work, a contractual obligation between Cyprus and France’s Total, comes a week after the collapse of talks to reunify the divided island nation, split between ethnic Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Ankara has said it will take measures against Cyprus for engaging in gas and oil exploration around the island. It says that hydrocarbon resources in the waters around the divided island should belong to both sides.
The military said it had deployed the frigates and a submarine to the eastern Mediterranean to “guarantee the security of oil transportation”.
Another frigate was dispatched to monitor a drilling vessel off the coast of Cyprus, it said. Earlier it was reported that the Turkish navy vessel TCG Gokceada had been commissioned by the Turkish Chiefs of Staff to monitor the drillship West Capella that arrived in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone in the early hours of Wednesday, the website of the Turkish armed forces general staff said on Thursday.
“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’s energy and foreign ministries are working together to plan steps against the Greek side’s unilateral steps, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, without giving details on what those steps might entail.
Ankara said it would take measures against Greek Cypriot exploration for oil or gas around Cyprus, according to its foreign minister which added that Turkish Cypriots had rights on those reserves.
In Greece meanwhile, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras likened Turkey to a barking dog.
Speaking after a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Tsipras said the collapse of the Cyprus talks last week proved “that we have a neighbour who does not respect stability, cooperation, and peace.”
The Greek premier said the country was always ready to defend its sovereign rights.