Turkish drill ship heads back home from Cyprus waters

Turkish drill ship heads back home from Cyprus waters
The Turkish drill ship Yavuz had first begun operations east of Cyprus in July 2019. Above, the Yavuz during its send off in June last year. (AFP)
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Updated 05 October 2020

Turkish drill ship heads back home from Cyprus waters

Turkish drill ship heads back home from Cyprus waters
  • EU leaders last Friday assured Cyprus that the bloc would punish Turkey if it continues drilling in disputed Mediterranean areas

ISTANBUL: A Turkish drill ship has left the area where it was operating southwest of Cyprus and reached Turkey’s coast, Refinitiv Eikon shipping data showed on Monday, in a move the European Union said would help to ease tensions in the east Mediterranean.
EU member Cyprus’ internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government has long been at odds with Turkey over the demarcation of maritime waters and other issues. Turkish vessels began drilling for oil and gas near Cyprus last year.
EU leaders last Friday assured Cyprus that the bloc would punish Turkey if it continues drilling in disputed Mediterranean areas, after resisting Cypriot calls to impose sanctions on Ankara.
The vessel Yavuz began operations off the southwest of Cyprus which were then extended until Oct. 12, in a move described by Greece, a close ally of Cyprus, as provocative. Yavuz had first begun operations east of Cyprus in July 2019.
However, ship tracking data showed Yavuz as being near the port of Tasucu in Turkey’s Mersin province on Monday morning, after it departed on Sunday from the area southwest of Cyprus.
Welcoming the news, a spokesman for the EU executive, the European Commission, said: “The departure constitutes another welcome step toward de-escalation in the eastern Mediterranean and we hope for similar and further moves in this direction.”
“It’s an important signal,” he told a regular briefing.
Turkish seismic research vessel Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa remains off southeastern Cyprus and its operations there have been extended to Oct. 18.
Regional tensions simmered after Turkish and Greek frigates collided at sea in August near a Turkish exploration vessel, but calmed down after Turkey and Greece agreed to resume “exploratory talks” that ended in 2016.
NATO announced last Thursday that Greece and Turkey, both alliance members, had set up a “military de-confliction mechanism” to avoid accidental clashes at sea.
The island of Cyprus was split after a 1974 Turkish invasion spurred by a brief coup engineered by the military then ruling Greece.
Turkey has no diplomatic relations with Cyprus and instead recognizes a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north of the island.


Lebanon inks final deal for 2.1 mln doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

Lebanon inks final deal for 2.1 mln doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
Updated 59 min 5 sec ago

Lebanon inks final deal for 2.1 mln doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

Lebanon inks final deal for 2.1 mln doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
  • The vaccines are expected to arrive in batches starting February
  • The ministry is also cooperating with the private sector to secure 2 million vaccine doses from Astrazenca and Sinopharm

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s caretaker health minister signed a final deal on Sunday to secure 2.1 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine as the country battles a steep rise in infections.
The vaccines are expected to arrive in batches starting February, the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry is also cooperating with the private sector to secure 2 million vaccine doses from Astrazenca and Sinopharm, it added.
Lebanon is under a three-week lockdown that ends on Feb. 1 and a strict 24-hour curfew until Jan. 25 after lax measures over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period led to a spike in cases.
In addition to these deals, Lebanon has also signed up for 2.7 million doses to be delivered through COVAX, the global scheme backed by the World Health Organization to provide vaccines to poorer countries.