Russia has reaffirmed the positions of principle it maintains on the Cyprus problem and its dedication to a solution based on UN resolutions, and furthermore reiterated its support to the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus to explore and exploit its natural resources in its maritime zones.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus Tasos Tzionis met on Monday in Moscow with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Grushko, whom he informed on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and Turkey’s illegal activities in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, stressing in particular Turkish aspirations in the Eastern Mediterranean and its destabilising role in the region.
They also exchanged views on the geopolitical situation in the broader Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey’s offensive in Syria, the prospects of overcoming the Syrian crisis, and migration.
Tzionis and Grushko agreed to remain in close contact and promote cooperation.
According to a navigational warning issued by Turkey, Turkish drill ship “Yavuz”, which has returned to Cyprus’ EEZ, will carry out drilling operations inside block 7, located off the south-western coast of Cyprus. Block 7 has been licensed by the government of Cyprus to France’s Total and Italy’s ENI for drilling operations.
“Yavuz”, was anchored off the island’s north-eastern coast on July 8 and operated within the territorial waters of the Republic of Cyprus, until September 17, when it departed for a Turkish port in Mersin.
Moreover, Turkey issued a navigational telex (navtex), announcing its intention to start drilling off Cyprus and since 4 May 2019, the Turkish drill ship “Fatih” has been anchored 36 nautical miles west of Akamas peninsula. The area falls within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus. Ankara extended the navtex until November 1, 2019.
Cyprus has called on drill ship “Yavuz” and its supporting vessels to immediately cease illegal actions in the Republic’ Exclusive Economic Zone and its continental shelf.
A navigational telex (navtex), published on the website of the Joint Rescue and Coordination Centre (JRCC) stationed in Larnaca, also warned all those working on “Yavuz” and its supporting vessels that they will face consequences and an international arrest warrant will be issued against them.
EU Foreign Ministers endorsed on 15 July 2019 measures concerning Turkey’s illegal drilling in the EEZ of Cyprus, deciding, among others, to suspend negotiations with Ankara on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and postpone the Association Council and other EU-Turkey meetings. Moreover, the Council reduced the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 and invited the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in the country.
In accordance with the 20 June 2019 European Council conclusions, Foreign Ministers also invited the High Representative and the Commission to continue working on options for targeted measures in light of Turkey’s continued drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey has ignored numerous UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and respect of the integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The last round of negotiations, in the summer of 2017, at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.