Turkish warships still blocking drilling rig, Nicosia says

Oct. 15 2017 children play on a beach with a drilling platform seen in the background on the outskirts of Larnaca port in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus

Cyprus govt says Turkish warships blocking drilling rig

Cypriots are filled with indignation at Turkish officials considering certain areas in Cyprus' offshore maritime zone, known as an EEZ, to be under the jurisdiction of Turkey, thereby trying to prevent Cyprus from exploring the area for natural gas.

The Turkish Navy blockaded the marine Saipem 12000 drilling station, which is drilling in the Cyprus SEZ for the Italian ENI oil company.

Earlier, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades slammed Turkey for blocking an exploration vessel and said that Cyprus would take "necessary steps".

"From our side, our actions reflect the necessity of avoiding anything which could escalate (the situation), without of course overlooking the violation of global law perpetrated by Turkey", Anastasiades told journalists in Nicosia.

A spokesman for the Italian Foreign Ministry said that the situation is being watched "at the highest level" through its diplomats in Nicosia and Ankara, and that Italy is considering "all possible diplomatic steps to resolve the question".

The Greek foreign ministry on Monday said in a statement that "Turkey is continuing to challenge global law by flagrantly violating the sovereign rights of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean", referring to "Turkey's illegal actions in the ZEE of Cyprus".

The ship was heading to Block 3 of Cyprus's exclusive economic zone, ENI said.

In a statement Monday, the ministry called on Turkey to stop any further unlawful actions and to comply with its global legal obligations.

Turkey opposes the drilling, saying it flouts the rights of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots to ethnically-split Cyprus' natural resources.

Cyprus's state radio reported senior officials from Eni would hold talks in Nicosia on Monday.

Turkish troops occupied the northern part of the island in 1974, invoking intervention rights, after a short lived coup organized by the military rulers of Greece at the time.

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