Gas standoff with Turkey being handled through diplomacy: Cyprus President

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Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday sought to diffuse tensions after Turkey issued a stern warning to the eastern Mediterranean island in natural gas drilling.

“There is no cause for anyone to be concerned. This is being handled in a manner to avert any possible crisis which could create problems either to the economy or to the state,” Anastasiades said after a cabinet meeting

The Cypriot president said the government is concentrating on diplomatic moves to defuse the crisis.

The standoff started on Friday night, when Turkish warships prevented a drillship operating on behalf of Italian ENI from heading to a new drilling site between the southeastern Cypriot shores and Lebanon.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish warships were monitoring developments in the region, warning Cyprus not to “overstep the mark” in the eastern Mediterranean.

ENI’s vice president Claudio Descalzi arrived in Cyprus Tuesday for a routine visit on his companies activities in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone, but his talks with Cypriot Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis focused mainly on the standoff.

Descaltzi told the Cypriot Minister that ENI has made representations to the Italian government to act so that the drillship, “Saipem 12000” could move without undue delay to its drilling target.

The European Commission and the European Council have come out in support of Cyprus, calling on Turkey to refrain from stirring up crisis and respect the sovereign rights of an EU member state.

Turkey occupied part of Cyprus’s territory in a 1974 military operation, in reaction to a short-lived coup by the military rulers of Greece at the time.

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