Cyprus calls on Russia to intervene to stop Turkish exploration off its shores

Cyprus called on Russia, on Thursday, to intervene in defusing tensions with Turkey over the exploration of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean, a long-running row and tension recently.

And a Turkish geological survey ship, "Barbaros Khair al-Din Pasha", sailed to waters off Cyprus earlier in the week, and Greece protested last week to Turkey's plans to send another ship, "Aroj Rais", to an area between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete, Turkey suspended the project until talks with Greece.

"The Russian president intervened to persuade Turkey to stop all illegal actions," Cypriot government spokesman Kyriakos Kochios said in a statement. President Nikos Anastasiades asked in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

"The Russian president promised ... to intervene to stop the escalation of the crisis, and also to engage in a creative dialogue to solve the Cyprus problem," he added.

He added: "Putin stressed that he is monitoring the situation ... with great concern and always supports resolving disputes through negotiations on the basis of principles of international law," and revealed that the phone conversation lasted 45 minutes.

For his part, the Kremlin said that during the conversation, "regional issues, including the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, and the prospects for a Cyprus settlement" were discussed, along with bilateral issues.

Greece and Cyprus, which are members of the European Union, are at odds with Turkey over overlapping claims to the right to offshore oil and gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Relations between Turkey and Greece deteriorated to a new level last week, after the Turkish navy issued a warning bulletin about conducting geological surveys, usually a prelude to oil and gas exploration, in waters that Greece said it belonged to. Countries differ on the limits of their continental shelf.



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