Turkish president says Cyprus mustn't 'overstep the mark' after ship incident

Turkish president says Cyprus mustn't 'overstep the mark' after ship incident

The Greek government has not yet issued a statement on the incident.

Greece's foreign ministry on Monday condemned Turkey's violation of Cyprus' exclusive economic zone (EEZ) after Turkish warships harassed an Italian-interest rig digging for hydrocarbon in the Eastern Aegean, according to greekreporter.

Turkish naval vessels have intercepted the route of a ship belonging to the Italian oil exploration company Eni, which was on its way to explore the recently discovered gas reserves in Cypriot waters.

"We advise the foreign companies who are conducting activities off Cyprus, relying on the Greek side, not to be an instrument to businesses that exceed their limit and power".

The Cypriot government says it has a sovereign right to drill for gas and that if the search is successful, any income would be shared equitably if the island is reunified.

The Saipem 12000 drill ship had been heading from a location south-southwest of Cyprus towards an area southeast of the island when it was stopped by Turkish warships on Friday, Cyprus said.

The incident occurred near the uninhabited Imia islets, just off the Turkish coast and a historic flashpoint in a long-running demarcation dispute.

Greek President Nicos Anastasiades said on February 11 that Turkey is continuing provocations in the Cypriot SEZ and that Nicosia intends to reach an end of the worldwide rights violations of Turkey.

Turkey and Cyprus have long argued over the eastern Mediterranean, and Ankara has been stringent in defending the claims of Turkish Cypriots for a share of energy resources. Cyprus was disregarding the "inalienable rights" to natural resources of Turkish Cypriots and jeopardizing the region's stability, the ministry claimed in a statement.

The Greek foreign ministry praised the Cypriot government for its "cool-headed and sober stance" over Turkey's provocations.

The EU cautioned Turkey to respect the territory of its member states and to avoid ratcheting up tensions. However, European countries still rely on Turkey as a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and to slow an influx of Syrian refugees into the bloc.

Cyprus became a member of the European Union in 2004, but only the southern part of the island enjoys full benefits.

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