Feb 16 2018

U.S. giant Exxon sending two drilling ships to Cyprus

The US oil giant ExxonMobil announced that plans to send two surveying vessels to Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone despite the ongoing dispute, which also extends to the waters around Cyprus.

Turkey and Greece, Nato allies, have been at odds over Aegean Sea islets in the past and most recently this week the Turkish and Greek coastguard vessels had a tense six-hour standoff near the disputed Imia/Kardak islet.

Greek officials have made stark warnings to Turkey after rising tensions in the Aegean region culminated in incidents between Turkish and Greek vessels, the Greek newspaper Kathimerini reports.

On Monday Turkish and Greek Coastguard vessels collided near a pair of uninhabited islets known as Imia in Greek and Kardak in Turkish, reportedly after “risky maneuvers” by the Turkish vessel. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has denied their ship was at fault.

Despite the Greek government's position that Greece must avoid a clash and try to resolve the crisis through diplomatic channels, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has toughened his rhetoric toward Turkey, warning on Thursday that Greece “will not allow, accept or tolerate any challenge to its territorial integrity and its sovereign rights.”

Seeking international support, Tsipras stressed that the Greek border is also the border of the 28-nation European Union and said that Greece had briefed both NATO and the United States on the issue.

Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, the Greek government spokesman, also warned during a Greek T.V. channel appearance on Friday morning that “if there is another act of Turkish aggression on Greek territory, there will be a response, and there is no other way for us.”

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias warned Turkey on Thursday saying Turkey “touched the red line and in some sense crossed it.” He also urged Ankara that the next time Greece would not respond to subsequent aggressions peacefully.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s naval blockade near Cyprus continued preventing the Italian energy company Eni from drilling in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone for the seventh consecutive day yesterday. Reuters quoted Claudio Descalzi, Eni CEO, saying about the situation; “It’s not really under our control."

The footage published by Greek Reporter shows the Turkish patrol “Umut”, which in Turkish means hope, ramming in to the left side of “Gavdos”.