Cyprus issues arrest warrants for crew of Turkish drill ship

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Turkey's first drilling vessel, Fatih, starts conducting its first deep drilling in offshore Antalya on the county's southern Mediterranean coast, Turkey on October 30, 2018. AFP PHOTOS

Cyprus has issued arrest warrants for 25 people including crew members of the Fatih, a Turkish drilling vessel, and officials at firms partnered with the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), the Ahval news website reported on Monday.

Officials at one Croatian and two US companies working with TPAO were among those for whom warrants were issued.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy on Monday slammed the reported arrest warrants and said that such a decision would be “null and void” for Turkey, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

“Nobody should doubt that we will give the necessary response if it dares [to do so],” he said in a statement.

Ankara has been in a dispute with Athens and Nicosia over the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and natural gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Last month Turkey sent the Fatih to the west of the island to begin drilling for oil and gas with plans to drill not inside Cyprus’s EEZ but in territory claimed by Greece.

Cypriot authorities warned Turkey to halt operations and threatened arrest warrants, but Turkish authorities repeatedly said they would continue conducting exploration and drilling activities.

Ankara objects to Cypriot and Greek gas exploration efforts in the eastern Mediterranean, insisting that the Turkish Cypriots should receive a fair share from gas resources of the disputed island.

Since Turkey’s military intervention in 1974, the island of Cyprus has been divided into the predominantly Greek south, whose government is internationally recognized, and the Turkish north, whose sovereignty is only recognized by Ankara.

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