WASHINGTON – The US Department of State urges Turkey to halt drilling operations in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.
“The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its Exclusive Economic Zone. This step is highly provocative and risks raising tensions in the region. We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations and encourage all parties to act with restraint,” the statement said.
With Turkey drilling for oil and gas in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) Greece’s government is anxious that there could be further provocations in the East Mediterranean and the Aegean, also calling for an end to the violation of sovereign waters.
The European Union – which Turkey wants to join – issued one of its variety of escalating worries, this one for “grave concern,” stronger than just concern, and said it would “respond appropriately and in full solidarity” with Cyprus but is powerless to do anything really.
The Greek Foreign Ministry also denounced Turkey’s decision and called on Ankara to “immediately cease its illegal activities, to respect Cyprus’s inalienable sovereign rights and to desist from further actions that undermine stability in the region.”
Similar previous entreaties have been ignored by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has stepped up tensions in waters off Cyprus and Greek islands, repeatedly sending in fighter jets and warships to violate airspace and the seas.
The increase in fighter jet incursion, with frequent mock dogfights with Greek pilots is seen as an indication that Erdogan will forge ahead, uncaring what Greece, Cyprus, the EU or the United States has to say.
Turkey has claimed a so-called Blue Homeland under Erdogan, ranging across half of the East Mediterranean, including the continental shelves of Cyprus, Rhodes, Kastellorizo, Karpathos, Kassos and the eastern section of Crete.
That has been going on even though Greece and Turkey belong to NATO, the defense alliance whose chief, former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, said he wants no part of any troubles between the countries at any rate.