Turkish Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın has stated that the United States’ 6th fleet has not yet arrived off the island of Cyprus, after the Greek Cypriot administration claimed that the U.S. navy will be in the eastern Mediterranean for the protection of Exxon’s drilling vessel from a potential Turkish intervention.
“We are also reading such news [from the press]. But we have no information that the deployment of the 6th fleet [off Cyprus] has been realized,” Kalın told reporters at a press conference on March 7.
Some Greek Cypriot media outlets had suggested that the U.S. 6th fleet will accompany an Exxon exploration vessel in its hydrocarbon activities in the disputed areas of the eastern Mediterranean against a potential Turkish military intervention.
Tension between Turkey, Greek Cyprus and Greece has been rising in recent months after Nicosia unilaterally accelerated its hydrocarbon activities around the island. It was reported that the Turkish naval forces blocked an exploration vessel of Italian energy company ENI off the southeastern coasts of the island, known as block three. Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots say this block is part of the economic zone of the northern part of the island.
Kalın stated that the exclusive economic zone of the island has been sectioned into different zones, repeating Turkey’s call on Greek Cyprus to carry out hydrocarbon activities with the participation of the Turkish Cypriot administration.
“Let’s turn the eastern Mediterranean into an area of compromise and mutual interest, not a region of conflict and dispute. To this end, the Turkish and Greek sides of Cyprus can launch a joint study within the framework to be drawn by Turkey, Greece and other countries,” he said, adding that Turkey has “no problem with gas exploration and drilling activities in the region.”
“But if you initiate illegal means in your exploration efforts and violate sovereign rights of course there will be consequences. Turkey will never hesitate in taking the necessary steps,” Kalın stated.