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Nicosia says Yavuz departure ‘positive,’ Turkey slams Greece for triggering new tensions

Cypriot government spokesman Kyriacos Koushos said Turkey’s pulling out of Yavuz drillship from waters off Cyprus was a positive step but cautioned it was not known whether the withdrawal would be short-lived.

Koushos, who was a guest on state radio Monday morning, was asked to comment on media reports that showed the Turkish drillship Yavuz close to the Turkish coast.

“It is a very positive development which contributes to the creation of a positive climate,” Koushos said.

 

But the spokesperson also went on to say that another Turkish seismic vessel, Barbaros, was still within the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ), adding that “we don’t know yet if the [Yavuz] withdrawal is permanent.”

The vessel had been scheduled to leave the area southwest of the divided island a week later.

Turkish drilling ships have been carrying out exploratory activities in response to what Ankara calls “unilateral action” by the Republic of Cyprus and partners in the region aimed at cutting Turkey off from energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean.

An EU special Council meeting in Brussels last week weighed in on the dispute, calling for diplomatic dialogue and efforts to resolve the issue, including a summit with all parties directly affected by the dispute.

Brussels said it wanted a positive relationship with Turkey but warned this could “only work if the provocations and pressures stop.”

But Turkish media also reported over the weekend that Greece had issued two Navtex warnings to mariners, saying Greek navigational telex concerning naval exercises were issued for areas under Turkey’s area of responsibility.

A counter Navtex was then issued by Ankara, accusing Athens of provocations at a time when steps were being taken to resolve the problems in the Eastern Mediterranean through dialogue.

Navtex warnings and anti-Navtex messages have been a common practice amongst the Republic of Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey, issued over a backdrop of long-standing maritime boundary disputes and the ongoing Cyprus problem