Athens and Nicosia are raising alarm bells as Turkey continues to dispute Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and, in particular, its rights to hydrocarbon exploration in Block 6, which was recently licensed to a consortium of Italy’s Eni and France’s Total.
Ankara insists that part of the island’s EEZ is part of “Turkey’s continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean,” according to a recent letter to the United Nations General Assembly by Turkey’s permanent representative to the UN, Feridun Sinirlioglu.
Turkey upped the ante further on Wednesday, issuing three navigational telexes (navtex) reserving areas within Cyprus’s EEZ, including Block 6, for seismic research and exercises with live ammunition.
It will also conduct exercises with live ammunition in international waters south of Kastelorizo, raising questions as to its designs in the area stretching from the southeastern Aegean island to Cyprus.
Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said during a parliamentary committee meeting on Wednesday that he was vindicated after what he described as the unfair attack he was subjected to early last month, when he raised the issue of Turkish intentions within Cyprus’s EEZ.
Meanwhile, a Greek council of appeals court judges blocked a second request by Ankara for the extradition of military officers who fled to Greece in July on a helicopter after a failed Turkish coup attempt.
The ruling applied to three of the eight soldiers who fled Turkey, with the court blocking the extradition of three others last week. The court is to hear the case of the remaining two men on Thursday.
In issuing its verdict on Wednesday, the court highlighted the same concerns as it had expressed in issuing its response to the first extradition request last year, which was repeated in a Supreme Court ruling in January.
Ahead of the verdict, the court’s prosecutor declared that the officers are unlikely to undergo a fair trial if they are returned to Turkey, with all evidence indicating that, on the contrary, “they will suffer torture and degradation.”
The prosecutor added that the men’s lives were at risk following announcements by Turkish authorities suggesting that the death penalty could be reinstated in the neighboring country.
Earlier in the day, the three Turkish officers told the court that nothing had changed in their homeland since last month’s constitutional referendum, which essentially granted more powers to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and said they feared they would be tortured if extradited.
All eight officers are being detained while they await the outcome of their applications to be granted political asylum in Greece.