Turkish media reports that a Turkish vessel accompanied by a Norwegian seismic ship will be engaging in gas exploration, setting a 200-mile stake in response to Greek Cypriot seeking to exhibit total control of the area. The vessels will be escorted by Turkish warships, submarines and aerial F-16 escorts as well if deemed necessary.
A plan has been put into action in which the Mediterranean will be under a blockade from both the sea and air. Accordingly, the Turkish flagged Piri Reis and a Norwegian seismic ship will start working in the Mediterranean accompanied by Turkey’s navy. If necessary, the Turkish Air Forces will deploy F-16 war planes to Northern Cyprus. Ankara considers the 200 mile open sea surrounding the mainland as being under ‘Turkey’s Exclusive Economic Region’ status.
Respect will be shown however to the Cyprus Island and its 12 mile open sea. The region where southern Cyprus has granted permission for all petroleum and natural gas exploration parcels as well as the area where the U.S. Noble Energy company is currently working is all classified as Turkey’s exclusive economic region.
There is potential for a standoff here however, should Israeli and Turkish military find themselves face-to-face or if Israeli warplanes escort Greek Cypriots engaged in their exploration. In accordance to the newly signed Continental Shelf Agreement, Turkey will be able to send military planes to the region, Turkish media reports. The Greek press alleges that Turkish and Israeli F-16’s are already flying close enough to clip each other. According to an article published yesterday (25 Sept.), Turkish Air Force planes flew as close as 50 kilometers from the exploration area. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Erdogan met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in which he stated that the one-sided actions conducted by Greek Cyprus were damaging to the reunification negotiation process. “If the Greeks withdraw (referring to exploration efforts) then we will also step back.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)