Cyprus Defence Minister Savvas Angelides travels to Italy, on Monday where he is set to have a meeting with Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Buerine to discuss recent developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region including Turkey’s illegal activities within the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
During the meeting, a Defence Ministry press release says, “the two ministers will also discuss ways of further strengthening and enhancing the two countries` relations, placing an emphasis on security and defence issues as well as on the development of PESCO programmes.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey has ignored numerous UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and respect of the integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.
Turkey announced its intention to start drilling off Cyprus and send on 4 May 2019 the Turkish drillship “Fatih”, which remains anchored 36 nautical miles west of Akamas peninsula, in an area that falls within the EEZ and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus. A second Turkish drillship, “Yavuz”, arrived off the island’s north-eastern coast on 8 July 2019.
In response, EU Foreign Ministers endorsed on 15 July 2019 measures concerning Turkey’s illegal drilling in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus. In accordance with the 20 June 2019 European Council conclusions, Foreign Ministers also invited the High Representative and the European Commission to continue working on options for targeted measures in light of Turkey’s continued drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Egypt, France, Cyprus and Greece strongly condemned continued Turkish actions in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus and its territorial waters, in a joint communique issued by the four countries` Foreign Affairs Ministers on January 8 after a meeting in Cairo, in which the Italian Foreign Affairs Minister also took part “in a consultative framework.”
The four FMs called “upon Turkey to immediately cease all illegal exploration activities.”