Turkish drillship said to be moving out of Cyprus’ EEZ

The Turkish drillship Yavuz was leaving the island’s exclusive economic zone and heading back to Turkey, Greek Cypriot media reported on Sunday.

The reports said the departure of the Yavuz was likely linked to behind-the-scene diplomatic efforts, especially by Germany to ease tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

According to Phileleftheros, during long discussions at the European Council, Angela Merkel had asked President Nicos Anastasiades not to insist on the issue of sanctions and promised him that moves would be made by Turkey.

Among those moves would be that she expected Turkey would not renew its Navtex for activities in the region, and the possible withdrawal of one or both drilling rigs from Cyprus’ EEZ.

The paper said Nicosia, according to its information, was closely monitoring the course of the Yavuz in order to determine whether it was in fact returning to Turkey or changing position. It was positioned south west of the island.

According to marinetraffic.com on Sunday afternoon, the drillship was currently sailing at 8.4 knots in a northerly direction.

At the EU Council meeting on Thursday, Anastasiades had been pressing for EU sanctions against Turkey for repeatedly violating Cyprus’ EEZ, at one point linking them with proposed EU sanctions against Belarus.

But under strong pressure from other EU leaders, Cyprus late on Thursday agreed to a compromise that the EU review Turkey’s behaviour in December and impose sanctions then if its provocations did not stop.

Anastasiades said that leaders had discussed how to create a climate that would allow a strategic relationship between the EU and Turkey based on the principles and values of the EU and international law.

He highlighted the ‘unanimous position’ that a precondition was Turkey ending its illegal actions against the sovereign rights of Cyprus and Greece. A number of proposals, including immediate sanctions or giving time for diplomatic initiatives, were discussed.

Also, Nato allies Greece and Turkey set up a mechanism to avoid accidental clashes in the Eastern Mediterranean, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday, part of efforts to defuse the dispute over energy resources in the region.