With Nicosia seeking to consolidate its sovereign rights in view of Turkey’s stance in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis announced on Tuesday that the country will conduct eight drillings, six exploratory and two confirmatory, in specific areas of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) over the next 24 months, without revealing exactly where.
Moreover, he said that his government is in the final stages of licensing for Block 7, where France has expressed an interest. The block in question is considered especially “vulnerable” to Turkish claims as it has yet to be assigned to an energy company for drilling activities.
Turkey’s Fatih drillship currently remains anchored within Cyprus’ EEZ while the Barbaros research vessel is in Block 8, which has been awarded to Italian company Eni.
Nicosia is also keeping an eye on developments in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, where the Turkish-Cypriot administration was toppled – apparently under pressure from nationalists within the Turkish government over its perceived mild stance.
At the same time talks continued on Tuesday in Athens between Greek and Turkish military officials over the possibility of reviving a moratorium on flights over the Aegean in July and August and during religious holidays.
Nonetheless, eight Turkish military aircraft on Tuesday carried out 34 violations of Greek airspace in the northeastern, central and southeastern Aegean. A mock dogfight between Greek and Turkish aircraft was also reported.
The Turkish aircraft – six F-16s fighter jets that were flying in three formations and two CN-235s transport aircraft flying separately – also violated the Athens Flight Information Region twice.