UK watching developments in the east Med with concern

Cyprus on Sunday called on the Turkish drill ship “Fatih” and supporting vessels to immediately cease illegal actions in the country’s exclusive economic zone and warned with a message through Radio Cyprus that individuals and companies supporting illegal actions would face all consequences, including an international arrest warrant.

CNA obtained a copy of the message by Radio Cyprus to the “Fatih” and supporting vessels, which reads as follows:

“You are conducting illegal operations in the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus. Your actions are violating the international law and maritime safety procedures and you are committing serious criminal offences under the laws of the Republic of Cyprus.”

The message continues by saying that “any individuals and companies working and/or providing services, assisting and soliciting to support the illegal actions of ‘Fatih’ are violating the rights of the Republic of Cyprus, international law and maritime safety procedures.” Therefore, it is noted, they will face all consequences according to European and international law and an international arrest warrant will be issued against them.

“We hereby demand to immediately cease your illegal actions” the message concludes.

CNA also reported that the US embassy issued a brief statement on Sunday saying that Washington discourages any action or rhetoric that might increase tensions in the region.

According to long-standing US policy, the statement said, Washington recognises the right of the Republic of Cyprus to develop its resources within its EEZ and believes that the oil and gas resources should be allocated fairly between the two communities in the context of a comprehensive settlement.

“A fair and lasting settlement of the Cyprus problem would greatly facilitate the development of resources and help to ensure that all Cypriots benefit,” the statement said, according to CNA.

The UK is also following developments in the Eastern Mediterranean with concern, a spokesperson from the UK High Commission in Cyprus told CNA when asked to comment. “We are following developments with concern. We are in close touch with governments of Cyprus and Turkey. We wish to see the situation deescalated,” the UK High Commission spokesperson said.

Asked if the UK agreed with the EU’s statement on the issue, he replied: “Yes, the UK agrees with the High Representative’s position on the issue.”

The EU on Saturday expressed concern over Turkey’s intention to drill for gas in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and called on Ankara to respect the island’s rights and refrain from illegal activity to which the bloc would respond appropriately.

In a written statement, High Representative Federica Mogherini expressed grave concern over Turkey’s announced intention to carry out drilling activities within the island’s EEZ.

“We urgently call on Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone and refrain from any such illegal action to which the European Union will respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus,” Mogherini said.

Later on Saturday the government said action against Turkey was already being undertaken at a legal, political and diplomatic levels, utilising all possibilities, and in particular within the framework of the European Union.

“This provocative action by Turkey constitutes a flagrant violation of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus according to International and European Union Law,” a press release issued by the foreign ministry said.

Turkey said it planned to carry out offshore drilling in an area around 60 kilometres west of Paphos. It has issued a marine notice, a Navtex from May 3 to September 3, Cybc reported on Sunday.

Moscow also expressed concern about the escalation EEZ. A Russian ministry of foreign affairs announcement said they were “deeply concerned about information regarding the escalation of the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“We firmly [believe] that any economic activity should correspond to the norms of international law. We call upon Turkey not to undertake actions that could cause tension and create additional obstacles on the way to the settlement of the Cyprus problem,” the announcement concluded.