NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Turkey may have stolen technical data that enabled it to send a drill ship to a specific location south of Cyprus that energy companies Eni and Total had preselected to carry out their own exploratory drilling, a Cypriot official says.
Government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos says that although Cypriot authorities don’t have definitive proof, it’s believed that Turkey got its hands on data that helped guide its drill ship to the specific target.
The target is situated in an area, or block, where Cyprus has licensed Italian Eni and Total of France to carry out a hydrocarbons search. The two companies are licensed to conduct exploratory drilling in seven of the 13 blocks that make up Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone.
“There’s information, which is probably correct, that they had stolen plans and studies from a specific company, that’s why they went to the specific spot,” Koushos tells Greece’s state broadcaster ERT. He says he’s not suggesting that either Eni or Total had handed Turkey the data.
Koushos repeats Cyprus’s accusation that Turkey is flouting international law by carrying on with illegal drilling activity in Cypriot waters, and accuses the country of “gunboat diplomacy.”
“Unfortunately, Turkey has become the pirate state of the east Mediterranean,” he says.
Koushos denies a Turkish claim that it’s in secret negotiations with Eni on a hydrocarbons search in the area.
Cyprus’s Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides says the European Union is moving to expedite sanctions against individuals or companies involved in illegal drilling off Cyprus.
Article source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-january-22-2020/