THE COUNCIL of leaders “unanimously condemns the Turkish action in the EEZ of the Cyprus Republic and supports the efforts of the government to safeguard the sovereign rights of the Cyprus Republic and the unobstructed continuation of its energy plans,” said the government spokesman after President Anastasiades’ morning meeting with party leaders. 

Apart from the obligatory condemnation, the leaders gave their respective views about the situation, after being briefed by Anastasiades about the government’s intentions.

Energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis, who was also present, gave an indication of what the government’s intentions were on leaving the meeting. He told journalists the drilling in Block 3 could still go ahead as “diplomatic efforts would continue as far as they can go.” The “diplomatic measures were continuing, in all directions and at all levels,” he said, repeating the government’s mantra of the last 10 days. He also said “we are in constant consultation with the company (ENI)” and urged patience, even if the planned drilling looks more than likely to be abandoned after the new Navtex issued by Turkey.

Despite the constant consultations with ENI and the ongoing diplomatic efforts, nobody in the government appears to have noticed that the Italian government has decided to sit on the fence. A report by ANSAmed, quoting sources at the Italian foreign ministry, said that Italy was looking for a diplomatic solution to “an issue that does not relate to bilateral relations between Italy and Turkey, but relations and balances that are also economic, between the Cyprus Republic and the northern part of the island.”

Italy’s foreign ministry thought “a negative result of the ongoing efforts for the setting of agreed procedures in exploratory activities could put in danger the potential for development and the benefits for the whole area.” This was a rather convoluted way of saying, Italy agreed with Turkey’s position regarding the drilling and an acknowledgment that everyone should benefit from the hydrocarbons. Italy had no issue with Turkey’s decision to prevent the Saipem 12000 from reaching its drilling target.

The oft-repeated claim that a foreign government would not tolerate Turkey stopping its oil company from carrying out explorations for hydrocarbons has now been laid to rest. The Italian government has not only failed to condemn Turkey’s actions against an Italian company, but it has expressed tacit support for it in acknowledging the “the benefits for the whole area.” The government’s ongoing diplomatic efforts “in all directions,” have really failed if they could not even secure mild support for our position from Italy, after an Italian company’s drillship was stopped by the Turks.

So far, the only condemnation of Turkey’s actions has come from our party leaders.