The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 4)

The ships around Cyprus. From Greek daily Kathimerini

Last weeks events especially the death of Mr. Jobs, turned the attention of the public’s focus away from the Eastern Mediterranean. The number of articles published, the war mongering and empty threads diminished with the public general interest. May be it is good so.

Now is the era of back office diplomacy. It is time to talk and to bargain. Time will tell us Now these behind the closed doors talk will end.

Last week after a port visit to Girne the Turkish research ship R/V Koca Piri Reis resumed its activities off Cyprus. It is reported that the ship is now directed to an area that is further away from the famous Block 12.

In the mean time one Italian research ship R/V Explora and one Norwegian research R/V Bergen Surveyer ships are in Eastern Mediterranean conducting operations. The area is full of research ships.

The Turkish Piri Reis exploration vessel will continue its seismic research efforts off southern Cyprus, according to a Turkish official speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Piri Reis has partially completed its work on Block 12, a contested zone where the Republic of Cyprus has also begun drilling for oil and natural gas.

While the Turkish media referred to a story published by the Greek Cypriot daily Phileleftheros, which said that two Israeli F-15 jets flew through the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot airspace and harassed the vessel, Piri Reis Captain Umut Yenice said, “We worked safely, and war jets watched us 24 hours a day,” after the ship completed its seismic data collection studies in a 445 square-mile zone around Cyprus under an exploration license from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus granted by the TRNC Council of Ministers to the state-owned Turkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortakligi (Turkish Petroleum Corporation, or TPAO) to explore for oil and natural gas in the sea around Cyprus.

Yenice said, “We began seismic studies on 26 September, and we have completed our studies in an almost 445 square-mile zone in about ten days,” Istanbul’s Hurriyet newspaper reported.

A serious political crisis erupted in Cyprus last week. The President of Cyprus Christofias, is facing harsh criticism because of his role in a catastrophe of biblical proportions. The investigations panel founded after the confiscated Iranian ammunition in 98 standard size containers exploded severely damaging Cyprus’s main naval base and the adjunct main power station, put the blame on Mr Christofias as he was politically responsible.

PRESIDENT Demetris Christofias was responsible for allowing and keeping in Cyprus the confiscated munitions that exploded on July 11 killing 13 men, and for approving their storage at the Evangelos Florakis naval base in Mari, investigator Polys Polyviou concluded.

Polyviou also blamed defence minister Costas Papacostas and foreign minister Markos Kyprianou — both resigned in the aftermath of the blast — “but the main responsibility belongs to the President of the Republic, who heads the state and the government.”

“The President of the Republic in this case failed to take elementary measures for the security of Cyprus’s citizens. In this case I am not referring just to institutional responsibility,” Polyviou said. “The Executive, which is headed by the President of the Republic, failed miserably in taking the necessary measures to handle the matter.”

Reading out a summary of his 600-page plus report, Polyviou said the way in which the 98 containers had been stored was “completely irresponsible” and that their proximity to the power station had not been borne in mind, nor had the danger they posed to people working there.

“Even if the president did not sign a document choosing Mari and even if the National Guard and Defence Ministry decided to put them there the final decision belongs and is attributable to the president of the republic,” Polyviou said.

“The cargo was a time bomb placed in one of the most unsuitable places in Cyprus,” he added.

Mr. Christofias’ response the above mentioned accusations was not late and pretty much predictable: He denied that he was responsible and counter blamed the investigator Mr. Polyviou.

PRESIDENT Demetris Christofias yesterday defied calls for his resignation, rejecting the findings of an inquiry that he was personally responsible for the July 11 naval base blast that killed 13 people.

Christofias said he did not intend to resign but apologised to the relatives of the dead for the “mistakes, omissions and weaknesses” that led to the tragedy.

Christofias said the findings were not substantiated and accused investigator Polys Polyviou of overstepping his mandate by making suggestions and assessments concerning foreign policy.

“The President of the Republic categorically rejects that he has personal responsibility for the incident,” Christofias said last night in Limassol. “This conclusion … is not substantiated by the testimony and the material presented before the investigating committee. On the contrary.”

This accusations of guilt and responsibility for the Mari exposition is important as they may cause some important political changes in Greek part of Cyprus which in turn may effect the talks between the two communities in Cyprus and other activities around the island. But just before Cyprus gets the presidency for the EU I guess Mr. Christofias will do everything possible not to rock the boat too violently.

In a human gesture Israeli President Mr. Peres and Minister President Netanyahu send condolences to Turkey’s prime minister Mr. Erdoğan, after his mother died.

Israeli leaders have sent condolences to Turkey’s prime minister in a rare gesture of friendship at a time of deep strains between the former allies. Both President Simon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent their letters on news of the death of the mother of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Peres wrote Sunday that the news “was received with much sadness,” and he empathized with “the boundless sorrow” of Erdogan’s loss.

Erdogan’s mother died Friday

I wonder what did Mr. Lieberman send if anything at all?

While dealing with the political fallout of the Mari explosion, Cyprus has handed the protection of its EEZ to Israel.

According to a report in Phileleftheros the Israeli Air Force has now ramped up patrols near the exploration zones, with “intensive activity south of Cyprus yesterday.” 

Meanwhile the Turkish side announced that it will make more moves in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

The paper reports that over the last 24-hours: “the Israelis have dominated the area and monitored all movement near the Cyprus platform”. 

Last week the Greek and Turkish defence ministers hold talks during the session of Defence ministers of countries of Southeastern Europe in Antalya. I guess it is a good thing that both parties have a formal communication channel despite the harsh words and all.

National Defence Minister Panos Beglitis, speaking after his first meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ismet Yilmaz, in the framework of the session of Defence ministers of countries of Southeastern Europe in Antalya on Sunday, said “I raised the issue of Confidence Building Measures, where sincerely we have achieved considerable progress, but the two sides can work even more to enable us to create a climate of mutual trust, to reduce the mistrust between the two sides.” 
Beglitis also said that in this meeting he conveyed the Greek government’s concern over the recent violations of Greek airspace on the part of Turkish aircraft. 

On naval deployments there was some action last week: The Greek frigate F-452 HS Hydra was send to Eastern Mediterranean. The ship will take part in NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor. Turkish frigate F-247 TCG Kemalreis returned from the Eastern Mediterranean. Her passage off the Cape Sounio caused much excitement in the Greek media so that The Greek Defence Ministry had to publish a public announcement about the covering of TCG Kemalreis‘ passage in the media. Here is the Google translation of this announcement:

ANSWER IN PRESS
On the occasion of unsigned newspaper “Republic” entitled “to come Sounion Turkish frigate”, which contains false and slanderous reports about the fighting ability of the Armed Forces, the Defence announces that:
The author of the article lies and slanders the Defence and Armed Forces referring to supposedly complete surprise and panic, when the official announcement is clearly indicated on the motion of the ship from the area of ​​Rhodes to and exit from the Strait of Kafirea. The Armed Forces of the monitoring system have routinely monitor all vessels operating within the area of ​​responsibility by taking action where necessary.

F-247 TCG Kemalreis in heavy weather. Photo from blog Strategy Reports

Stressed that no reporter from this newspaper attempted to contact the General Staff to update or crosscheck the information was of “fishermen.” We urge them not to come into contact with the Press Office of the General Staff to be informed in detail about how the Armed Forces attended the voyage of Frigate and given a detailed outline of the ship’s motion (path and time).
Inform the end the author of the article, that such reports affect primarily the staff of the Armed Forces, working 24 hours a day, in this case as one that was responsible for monitoring the voyage of the frigate from early morning until early evening Saturday hour.

For the previous updates of Eastern Mediterranean:
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 3)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 2)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 1)

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One Response to The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 4)

  1. Pingback: Universul ! Ia Universul ! | tre3i

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