Second drillship Yavuz to be sent to Eastern Mediterranean

Published 19.06.2019 00:22

Turkey has demonstrated its determination to protect its sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean with continued efforts of drilling and seismic surveys in the region.

After dispatching its first vessel Fatih to the west of the island of Cyprus to start drilling the second well in the Eastern Mediterranean, Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said yesterday the country is scheduled to send its second drillship to the region tomorrow. In a statement to Anadolu Agency (AA) in Japan where he attended the G20 Energy and Environment Ministers Meeting, Dönmez highlighted that Turkey continues exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean in accordance with international law.

"Our second drilling vessel Fatih is ready to start operations in the region at the beginning of July in the concession block for which we have received a license from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)," the minister said.

The sixth-generation drillship Yavuz was bought by Turkish Petroleum for $262.5 million and has a length of 229 meters and weighs 21,283 gross tons. Yavuz came to a shipyard in Yalova in early March.

After Turkey sent the Fatih to the west of the island of Cyprus to start drilling a second well, some Western countries - including the U.S., France and Greece expressed their objections. But Turkey repetitively highlighted that its vessel conducts operations in its own exclusive economic zone, which is registered with the United Nations in 2004 and other states should respect the rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area. The unilaterally declared exclusive economic zone of the Greek Cypriot administration violates part of Turkey's shelf, particularly in Blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus' annexation by Greece, Ankara intervened as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded. The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries

Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. ended in 2017 in Switzerland.

Turkey to set up logistics base in Northern Cyprus

Ankara has decided to take action as the military presence of the U.S., Israel and France in southern Cyprus increased. With a view to better responding to the needs of the military vessels on duty in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey has decided to establish a logistics port in the northern Cyprus. To that end, a team from the Turkish navy went to northern Cyprus and held military and diplomatic meetings with the Turkish Cypriot officials.

Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officials agreed on the establishment of a facility in order to strengthen the logistical capacity of the military vessels in the region. A logistical port will be built in Famgusta and Trikomo in the northern part of the island.

A Turkish high-ranking official speaking to Demirören News Agency (DHA) said, "We are currently working on a logistics port in order to facilitate the operations of our military ships in the region."

TRNC Prime Minister Ersin Tatar also noted that Turkey carries out all operations in the region in accordance with the rights they have from international law.

"Turkey should also be very active in the region not only with its naval power but also with the air forces."

Greek Cypriots threaten to veto EU enlargement

Admitted into the European Union despite the unsettled Cyprus question and with Ankara and Turkish Cypriots against such a move, the Greek Cypriot Administration finally played the veto card on EU enlargement to push the 28-nation bloc to back its unilateral hydrocarbon activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and prevent Turkey's counter moves in the region.

EU ministers from the bloc's 28 states meet in Luxembourg on Tuesday to discuss starting formal membership negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia a year after France and the Netherlands had blocked it, demanding more reforms in the fear of upsetting their parliaments and voters at home.

North Macedonia has since sealed a landmark deal with Greece, ending a decades-old name dispute and prompting a dozen EU states to publicly call to reward Skopje.

At stake is also the EU's own credibility and the bloc's willingness to act against what it sees as growing influence by Russia and other foreign powers in the region still scarred by wars fought along religious and ethnic lines in the 1990s.

Complicating matters further, the Greek Cypriot administration has threatened to block the whole text on the future prospects of countries willing to join the EU – a group that also includes Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina in the Balkans.

Diplomats said Nicosia was demanding a tougher EU line on Turkey over offshore drilling in Eastern Mediterranean, which the Greek Cypriot government says violates its unilaterally declared exclusive commercial zone.

Greek Cyprus and Greece said they could seek EU sanctions against Turkey, though the bloc is not seen acting on that for now. Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades said yesterday he expected the EU would deliver a stronger message to Turkey against endeavors by Ankara to explore for gas in areas surrounding the island.

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