Turkish reports suggest Barbaros to leave Cyprus next week for Kastellorizo

A day after reports in the Turkish press indicated that Turkey’s seismic vessel Barbaros will withdraw from Cypriot waters next week, fueling hopes of a possible resumption of Cyprus talks, fresh reports over the weekend suggested that the Barbaros is heading for Greek territorial waters.

A Turkish maritime order, or Navigational Telex (Navtex), that was issued illegally in October to dispatch the Barbaros to Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) will not be renewed, according to the reports. However, a new Navtex is to be issued for January 1 to 10, dispatching the Barbaros to the area between the Dodecanese islands of Rhodes and Kastellorizo for participation in an anti-submarine exercise.

Although the prospect of the Barbaros entering Greek territorial waters is regarded as unlikely, diplomatic sources were not ruling out such a scenario.

The Barbaros has been within Cyprus’s EEZ since October 20 when it entered the area amid Turkish protests over Cypriot authorities launching licensed oil and gas drilling activities in the area.

The violation by the Barbaros prompted Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades to pull out of the latest round of United Nations-mediated negotiations aimed at reunifying the divided island.

Initial reports in the Turkish media quoted Turkish-Cypriot negotiator Ergun Olgun as saying that the Barbaros would withdraw from Cyprus’s EEZ on December 30, following the completion of its exploration activities. According to the reports, Olgun said the move would pave the way for the resumption of stalled talks.