Turkey to Continue Drilling Operations Near Cyprus Despite EU Criticism - Foreign Ministry

Elias Hubbard
July 11, 2019

There has been no comment so far from Turkey which sent a drilling ship to the Mediterranean off Cyprus Monday, sparking a protest by the Greek Cypriots.

Meanwhile, the Greek Cypriots have signed EEZ agreements with Egypt, Lebanon and Israel to which Turkey has objected on the grounds, it says, that certain areas in Cyprus's EEZ, fall under the jurisdiction of Turkey or of the Turkish Republic of Cyprus.

A foreign ministry statement "stressed the importance of non-escalation and commitment to respecting and implementing global law".

Cyprus is divided between the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus and a breakaway state set up after the 1974 Turkish occupation, following a coup sponsored by the military government then ruling Greece.

The Greek south has global recognition while only Turkey recognizes the government in the north. Several peacemaking efforts have failed and the discovery of offshore resources has complicated the negotiations.

Israel's relations with Turkey have been at a low point for years following an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound boat in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon later tweeted that Jerusalem fully backs Cyprus in asserting it territorial rights.

"Turkey maintains its rights on the continental shelf in Eastern Mediterranean and will continue protecting the rights of Cyprus' Turkish community for its shelf", the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

The US has also voiced concern over the situation.

"We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations and encourage all parties to act with restraint and refrain from actions that increase tensions in the region".

Turkey has rejected European Union condemnation of its efforts to drill for gas in waters off the coast of Cyprus, and says the bloc can not be considered an impartial mediator for the divided island, AP reports.

Turkey's foreign ministry said the Fatih ship was drilling in fields within the continental shelf that Turkey declared to the United Nations, and for which Turkish state energy company Turkish Petroleum (TP) had issued licences in 2009 and 2012.

"On their own, these measures. can not and will not stop the destabilising behaviour of Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean or more generally", he told Cyprus' Sigma TV.

Turkey's announcement came amid tensions with the European Union, which has called on Ankara to cease its "illegal" activities.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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