Cyprus accuses Turkey of blocking ship again in gas exploration standoff

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said that Cyprus was determined to press ahead with its plans for oil and gas exploration despite the intervention of the Turkish navy in blocking an Eni-chartered drillship. (Reuters)
Updated 23 February 2018
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Cyprus accuses Turkey of blocking ship again in gas exploration standoff

ATHENS: Cyprus accused Turkey on Friday of threatening to use force against a drillship chartered by Italy’s Eni, in a standoff over hydrocarbons rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
There was no immediate reaction from Turkey, which has vowed to prevent Greek Cypriots from exploring for oil or gas around the ethnically-split island and says some areas of Cyprus’s offshore maritime zone fall under its jurisdiction.
On Feb. 9, the Turkish navy on maneuvers in the Mediterranean stopped the Saipem 12000 vessel on its way to drill for gas in the waters off Cyprus, triggering a diplomatic standoff which has underscored tensions in the region over competing claims for offshore resources.
Deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos told the Cyprus News Agency on Friday the ship was heading to the same area, when five Turkish vessels interrupted its course.
“The drillship was halted by five Turkish warships and after threats of violence launched (by the Turkish side) and the threat of a collision with the drillship ... the drillship was compelled to return back,” he said.
Turkey, which does not have diplomatic relations with Cyprus, this week extended military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean to March 10.
The Saipem 12000 vessel is currently on its way to Limassol where it is expected to stay for a few days, the agency said. Eni said on Thursday it was likely the ship would have to be moved in the coming days, probably to Morocco.
Cyprus will officially protest to international forums over the latest incident, Papadopooulos said.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was expected to discuss the issue with European Union leaders who are meeting in Brussels on Friday. He said this week that Cyprus was determined to press ahead with its plans for oil and gas exploration.
Eni and France’s Total discovered this month a promising natural gas field off Cyprus, which they said looked geologically similar to the mammoth Zohr field off Egypt.
Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief Greek-inspired coup. Peace talks collapsed last year. Greek Cypriots, who are exploring for natural gas, run Cyprus’s internationally recognized government. Turkish Cypriots run a breakaway state in north Cyprus recognized only by Ankara.


Australians rally in support of Muslims after mosques massacre

Updated 22 March 2019
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Australians rally in support of Muslims after mosques massacre

  • Hundreds of Australians on Friday took to the streets in a mass show of support for Muslim communities
  • Crowds from a range of ethnic backgrounds carried banners and chanted slogans backing Muslims

ADELAIDE: Hundreds of Australians on Friday took to the streets in a mass show of support for Muslim communities in the wake of last week’s terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand, which left 50 people dead. 
A huge rally took place in the center of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, a week to the day since the shootings in Christchurch.
And students at The University of Adelaide staged their own gathering in front of the main campus to express solidarity and denounce racism.
Crowds from a range of ethnic backgrounds carried banners and chanted slogans backing Muslims and other minority groups as they marched in the city’s Rundle Mall. They also criticized the Australian Border Force for its policies toward immigrants.
In cities throughout Australia people, shocked by the attacks on worshippers at the Al-Noor and Linwood mosques, rallied to condemn extremism and racial hate.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the atrocity as the darkest day in her country’s history.