Because of the recent licensed issued for oil and natural gas discovery by Greek Cyprus, the Turkish Navy has been authorized to increase their situational awareness and surveillance missions throughout the eastern Mediterranean Sea. According to Admirral Bulent Bostanoglu, the commander of the Turkish Navy, “The Prime Ministry handed over the rules of engagement to the Chief of General Staff and the Chief of Staff handed them over to the Naval Forces Command. We will act in line with these rules of engagement in the event we face a situation over this issue. The Turkish Naval Forces is providing support and close protection to the Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa Research Vessel. On the other hand, it continues to keep the drill ship hired by the Greek Cypriot administration under surveillance from nine kilometers’ distance. The order given to us for the moment is not to enter into this nine-kilometer area. That’s why no incident of harassment or disturbance has occurred.”
The Turkish government has thus far condemned the Cypriot gas discovery operation as a breach of ongoing peace negotiations and in turn has sent one of its own exploration vessels accompanied by a warship for increased surveillance of any and all foreign vessels currently undertaking oil exploration activities. This includes not only Greek Cypriot ships, but also Greek and Israeli warships as well.
In response to the increased naval deployment, Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades stated, during a joint press conference with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, that Turkey’s provocation presents a major roadblock to ongoing peace talks. “Turkey’s provocative actions do not just compromise the peace talks, but also affect security in the eastern Mediterranean region. For the [Cyprus peace] negotiations to succeed, Turkey needs to show a positive intention and adopt a constructive stance through positive and effective steps in this direction.”