Defence officials and diplomats in Athens and Nicosia are on standby for potential developments in the Eastern Mediterrenanean in the coming period while international observers await a fresh peace push aimed at reunifying Cyprus.
September is expected to be a critical month for Cyprus, as Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have already had United Nations-mediated talks. Meanwhile there are concerns that Turkey will make a fresh move in the Eastern Mediterranean where it has been disputing Nicosia’s right to search for hydrocarbons in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The Turkish research vessel Barbaros recently completed its mission south of Cyprus and moved northward to the Turkish port of Mersin. There are fears now that the departure of the Barbaros will lead Turkey to dispatch a drillship to Cyprus’ EEZ. The Fatih is to remain west of Cyprus until September 3 while the mission of the Yavuz, east of the island, is to end on September 30.
Nicosia fears that, in a bid to heighten tensions, Ankara might send a drillship to the island’s south, to Block 1 which has yet to be licensed. There are hopes that some progress is achieved in exploratory Cyprus talks before Ankara takes such action – a move that would likely create practical problems for Cyprus’ energy program.