Ignored US Raises “Deep Concerns” Over Turkish Drilling Off Cyprus

In this Tuesday, July 9, 2019 photo, a helicopter flies near Turkey's drilling ship, 'Fatih' dispatched towards the eastern Mediterranean, near Cyprus. Turkish officials say the drillships Fatih and Yavuz will drill for gas, which has prompted protests from Cyprus.(Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)

With Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan not acknowledging United States demands he should back off sending energy ships off Cyprus to drill, Washington said it still wants him to stop but he ignored the call again.

Talking to reporters, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said: “Similarly to the Europeans, we’ve expressed deep concerns over Turkey’s assertions that it is going to continue to drill in these waters off of Cyprus,” not just regular concerns.

She noted a State Department July 9 statement – also ignored – in which the US urged Turkey to halt its “provocative” activities in the area, while encouraging “all parties to act with restraint and refrain from actions that increase tensions in the region.”

Without even mentioning the US worries, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said a fourth ship will be sent into Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) to look for gas, after scoffing at soft sanctions from the European Union to break off some contacts with Ankara and halt some funding for Turkey.

Russia said it “cannot accept” the EU sanctions, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted by the TASS news agency as saying at a briefing.

“Certainly, it is an issue between Turkey and the European Union. We proceed from the fact that the pressure of sanctions – although, regrettably, already a factor of modern international relations – does not come the toolbox of diplomacy,” Zakharova said, according to translated documents, reported Kathimerini.

She said the sanctions – that failed to stop Turkey from going ahead with drilling – were a “form of aggressive pressure to promote their own interests,” without explaining what she meant by that.

That came after Russia’s Permanent |Representative to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov said the bloc was not authorized to impose sanctions on Turkey although it is. Turkey has been trying to join the EU since 2005 but refuges to recognize Cyprus – a member – and bars itsx ships and planes.

“The only agency that is authorized by international law to impose sanctions against anybody is the UN Security Council. That is why, everything that certain countries and in this case the European Union are doing is unilateral restrictive measures, unlawful by definition,” he said, according to TASS.