Tag Archives: Cyprus

Turkey swelling illegal drilling in Eastern Mediterranean – Cyprus accuses.


Ahead of special summit on crisis, Cypriot leader raises alarm as EU chief warns Ankara against intimidating neighbours.

Cyprus has accused Turkey of extending “illegal drilling” in disputed Mediterranean waters but said it is ready to engage in dialogue with Ankara to resolve differences over exploration rights.

On Tuesday, Turkey extended the operations of its Yavuz energy drill ship in the disputed area off Cyprus until October 12, in a move that could stir tension between the island’s Greek Cypriot government and Ankara.

“Yesterday, unfortunately a Turkish NAVTEX to expand illegal drilling by the Yavuz vessel was extended when at the same time, a series of initiatives are ongoing that seek an end to Ankara’s unlawful actions and de-escalation,” President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday, after a meeting with European Council President Charles Michel in Nicosia.

Yavuz will be accompanied by three other Turkish ships, according to a Turkish maritime notice that added “all vessels are strongly advised not to enter” the area, Turkish broadcaster TRT reported.


Anastasiades’s comments come a week ahead of a special summit of European Union leaders on September 24-25 to discuss how to resolve the crisis between Cyprus and Turkey.

Anastasiades said Turkey was continuing its provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean, adding Cyprus would enter dialogue – but not under threats.

Meanwhile, the European Commission’s president on Wednesday warned Turkey against trying to intimidate Greece and Cyprus.

In her annual State of the EU speech, Ursula von der Leyen said Ankara was a key partner doing important work hosting refugees but stressed “none of this is justification for attempts to intimidate its neighbours”.


Turkey, Greece and Cyprus have been locked in a dispute over energy resources and maritime borders in the region, with Ankara infuriating the EU countries by sending research ships with naval escorts to work in contested waters.

There have been fears of conflict erupting and Cyprus is pressing the rest of the EU to impose fresh sanctions on Ankara over the drilling, a move Turkey has decried as lacking legal basis.

“Turkey is and will always be an important neighbour, but while we are close together on the map, the distance between us appears to be growing,” Von der Leyen told the European Parliament.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and European Council President Charles Michel bump elbows after the news conference at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus September 16, 2020 [Yiannis Kourtoglou/Reuters]

“Yes, Turkey is in a troubled neighbourhood. And yes, it is hosting millions of refugees, for which we support them with considerable funding. But none of this is justification for attempts to intimidate its neighbours.”


Greece and Cyprus can count on Europe’s “full solidarity on protecting their legitimate sovereignty rights”, she added.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has called for European “solidarity” on the issue and a renewed migrant crisis.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said his country has been proposing to restart exploratory talks with Greece.

“Exploratory talks actually cover all disputed issues between Turkey and Greece … The previous government [in Greece] … didn’t want to actually restart. And this government also has not been willing to restart the exploratory talks, so we have to make an agreement,” he said.


Turkish forces begin military exercises in Cyprus.


France, meanwhile, says sanctions against Ankara are on the table during European Council meeting later this month.

Turkey’s armed forces on Sunday began annual exercises in the breakaway republic of Northern Cyprus – an entity recognised only by Ankara – as tensions continue to rise with Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s hunt for gas and oil reserves in waters claimed by Greece has put a huge strain on the relationship between the two NATO members.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday raised the stakes by warning Greece: “They will either understand the language of politics and diplomacy, or on the field through bitter experiences.”

As tensions run high, the Turkish military began its exercises called “Mediterranean Storm” with the Turkish Cypriot Security Command, Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter.

“The security priorities of our country and the TRNC [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus] are indispensable, along with diplomatic solutions in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Oktay said.

The Turkish defence ministry also tweeted the military exercises, which last until Thursday, continued “successfully”.


Cyprus is divided between the Greek Cypriot-run south – an EU member state – and the Turkish Cypriot north.

Turkey sanctions
Meanwhile, France said Turkey’s escalating conflict with Greece and Cyprus will be the main subject at this month’s European Council meeting, when sanctions will be considered against Ankara.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he and his counterparts in other EU countries had already discussed “the range of reprisals we could take with regards to Turkey”.

Turkey embarked on a military-backed hydrocarbon exploration venture in waters between Greece and Cyprus on August 10, ratcheting up tensions in a strategic corridor of the Eastern Mediterranean.


Greece responded with naval exercises to defend its maritime territory, which were later bolstered by the deployment of French frigates and fighter jets.

‘Up to the Turks’
The dispute between NATO members has underscored the rising geopolitical risks in the area as Turkey pursues more aggressively nationalist policies under Erdogan.

The European Union’s diplomatic chief Josep Borrell has also raised the possibility of sanctions against Ankara, but so far Paris has been unable to persuade other EU nations to join its hardline response.

Le Drian urged Erdogan to begin talks over its Eastern Mediterranean ambitions between now and the European Council meeting.


“It’s up to the Turks to show that this matter … can be discussed,” he told France Inter radio. “If so, we can create a virtuous circle for all the problems on the table.”

While he declined to specify the type of sanctions Ankara could face, he said there was an “entire series of measures”.

“We are not short of options – and he knows that,” said Le Drian referring to Erdogan.

The European Council meeting is set to meet on September 24-25.


United States partially lift ‘Military Goods Sale’ embargo on Cyprus after decades.


US decision to remove blocks for one year on the sale of ‘non-lethal defence articles’ slammed by Turkey.

The United States has said it will lift for one year its decades-old arms embargo on Cyprus to allow “non-lethal” military goods to be sold to the Mediterranean island.

In a move which was immediately slammed by Turkey, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades of the change in a phone call on Tuesday.

From October 1, the US will remove blocks for one year on the sale or transfer of “non-lethal defence articles and defence services”, the State Department said.

Pompeo also “reaffirmed US support for a comprehensive settlement to reunify the island”, according to State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

For his part, Anastasiades welcomed the lifting of the embargo, which the US imposed in 1987 in the hope that it could encourage the reunification of the island. He said the “positive” development “reinforce[d] the bilateral security relationship” between the two countries.

The US decision, however, drew immediate condemnation from Ankara.


“It poisons the peace and stability environment in the region,” the Turkish foreign ministry said, adding it does “not comply with the spirit of alliance” between the US and Turkey.

If Washington did not reverse course, the ministry said, “Turkey, as a guarantor country, will take the necessary decisive counter steps to guarantee the security of the Turkish Cypriot people, in line with its legal and historical responsibilities.”

Eastern Mediterranean tensions
Cyprus has effectively been divided since 1974 when Turkish forces invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-engineered Greek Cypriot coup seeking union with Greece. Repeated diplomatic efforts to solve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts have failed, often in acrimony.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades of the change in a phone call [Screen grab/Twitter]

The internationally recognised government of Cyprus controls the Greek Cypriot southern part of the island while Turkish Cypriots maintain a self-proclaimed independent state in the north, which is only recognised by Ankara. Greece, Turkey and Britain are guarantor powers of the island under a convoluted treaty which granted Cyprus independence from Britain in 1960.


The US announcement came amid a surge in tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece over maritime borders and gas drilling rights, which also involves Athens-allied Cyprus.

Both Greece and Turkey have staged naval drills in the area to assert their sovereign claims. Meanwhile the European Union – which counts Greece and Cyprus as members – warned Ankara on Friday to pull back or face sanctions.

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said the decision recognised the importance of the US relationship with Cyprus, which he called “a reliable strategic partner for our nation”.

“It is in our national security interest to lift these outdated decades-long arms restrictions and deepen our security relationship with the Republic of Cyprus,” he said in a statement.


NATO allies Turkey and the US have been at odds over

Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of defence and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said the announcement was just the latest hit to the ties between the two NATO allies.

“There is no doubt about the fact that Turkish-American relations are in very bad shape given the fact that the Turks have bought a Russian air defence system, which the US will compromise a lot of its capabilities in Turkey – in Incirlik [base] – and in Europe,” Kobb said, referring to Ankara’s purchase last year of the Russian S-400s, which Washington says are incompatible with the alliance’s defense systems.

“Obviously, the Turks are very upset about anything that empowers the majority of the people in Cyprus, the Greek Cypriots,” he added.



COVID-19: Cyprus set to cover tourist’s costs.

People gather at a beach in the coastal city of Larnaca on the island of Cyprus on May 23, 2020. Etienne Torbey—AFP/Getty Images

Cyprus is pledging to cover all costs for anyone testing positive for the coronavirus while on vacation on the eastern Mediterranean island nation, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The Cypriot government says it will cover lodging, food, drink and medication for COVID-19 patients and their families. Patients will only have to pay for the taxi ride to the airport and the flight back home.

A 100-bed hospital will cater exclusively to foreign travelers who test positive. About 112 intensive care units equipped with 200 respirators will be reserved for critically-ill patients. A 500-room “quarantine hotel” will be reserved for patients’ family members and other close contacts.

The pledge came in a five-page letter dated Tuesday that was sent out to governments, airlines and tour operators outlining strict health and hygiene protocols that the government is enacting to woo visitors to the tourism-reliant country.

Tourism directly accounts for 13% of Cyprus’ economy. This year, the country expects to lose as much as 70% of the 2.6 billion euros ($2.85 billion) in tourism-generated revenue.


The letter, signed by Cyprus’ foreign affairs, transport and tourism ministers, boasts that the country has one of the lowest coronavirus ratios per capita in Europe after having tested more than 10% of its population.

International air travel to Cyprus begins June 9, initially from 19 countries, with passengers required to undergo a COVID-19 test three days prior to departure. That measure will be lifted June 20 for 13 countries, including Germany, Finland, Israel, Greece and Norway.

Officials say travel will be expanded to more countries depending on a constant evaluation of their infection rates.


Passengers will have to show their test certificate prior to boarding an aircraft and may have to wear masks throughout the flight. Their temperature will be taken on arrival to Cyprus and some random testing may take place at no cost to the traveler.

Tourists will also have to fill out a “COVID-19 Traveler Declaration” stating all their travels 14 days prior to their Cyprus trip and that they have neither shown any coronavirus symptoms for 72 hours before departure nor that they have been in contact with infected people 14 days before.

While in Cyprus, people who aren’t in the same travel group are obliged to keep apart at least two square meters (21 square feet) outdoors and three square meters (32 square feet) indoors.


‘Our Broken System Has Been Exposed.’ How a British Woman’s Rape Case in Cyprus Has Become a Rallying Cry for Activists
Regularly disinfected sunbeds will be two meters (6.5 feet) apart for people not belonging to the same travel group.

Hotel staff will be obliged to wear masks with rooms being disinfected after every departure. At restaurants, bars, cafes and pubs, tables will be at least two meters (6.5 feet) apart with a maximum party size of 10. Guests will be encouraged to pay by card instead of cash.




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