Cyprus issues arrest warrants against Turkish sailors, Turkey-partnered drilling firms

Greek Cypriot authorities issued arrest warrants against 25 people including crew assisting the Turkish drilling vessel Fatih and officials at firms partnered with the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation, pro-government newspaper Hürriyet reported on Monday.

Officials at one Croatian and two U.S. companies partnered with Turkish Petroleum were among those receiving warrants.

Ankara has been in a bitter dispute with Athens and Nicosia over the island's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and natural gas drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Last month, Turkey sent Fatih to the west of the island of Cyprus to begin drilling for oil and gas with plans to drill not inside Cyprus’s EEZ, but in territory claimed by Greece.

Cypriot authorities urged Turkey to halt operations in the island's EEZ and threatened arrest warrants. But Turkish authorities repeatedly said they would continue carrying out exploration and drilling activities in accordance with the rights bestowed by international law.

Ankara objects to Cypriot and Greek for gas exploration efforts in the Eastern Mediterranean and says northern Turkish Cypriot state - which is only recognised by Turkey - should receive a fair share from gas resources of the disputed island.

Since 1974, the island of Cyprus has been divided into predominantly Greek south, whose government is internationally recognised, and the Turkish north, whose sovereignty is only recognised by Ankara.