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Tensions Rise in East Mediterranean As Turkey Issues NAVTEX off Cyprus

Ankara issued a new NAVTEX recently, blocking off parts of the Eastern Mediterranean, some of which overlap with the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus.
Turkey plans to send its ”Fatih” vessel (which means ”Conqueror”) to the area to conduct drilling for oil and gas.
The area in question is west of the Cypriot city of Paphos.
According to Greek and Cypriot media, Turkey does not plan to conduct the drilling inside Cyprus’ actual EEZ, but in an area Greece claims for its own.
Greece has not declared its own Exclusive Economic Zone as of this pointy, so there are no clear boundaries of such an area. However, according to experts, Turkey is claiming sovereignty in an area which could prove very problematic, as it could be the point where Greece’s and Cyprus’ zones connect with each other.
According to the latest Turkish NAVTEX, Ankara plans to conduct the drilling until September, with the assistance of three additional supportive vessels.
Nicosia’s diplomats are in constant communication both with Athens and with major Western capitals, such as Washington, London and Paris, in order to coordinate their steps ahead of possible further escalation from the Turkish side.
This new reality clearly shows Turkey’s intention to draw Greece and Cyprus into a difficult position, as its aggressive tactics directly oppose the energy-related plans of Athens, Nicosia and their allies in the region, such as Israel and Egypt.
On Thursday, a US official indirectly warned Turkey that Washington does not encourage such plans, saying that ”the United States was strongly discouraging any activity that could escalate tensions” in the region.

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