Ignoring Warnings, Erdogan Says Turkey Won’t Stop Cyprus Drilling

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool, FILE)

Continuing to defy Cyprus, Greece, the United States and European Union sanctions, Turkey will “resolutely” continue to keep drilling for energy in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, with no one making a move to stop him yet.

Speaking at a press conference in Ankara following a meeting with Ersin Tatar, the self-declare premier of the northern third of Cyprus that’s been occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion, Erdogan said Turkey will claim any oil and gas found off the island, where foreign companies licensed by the legitimate government are also drilling

“No project ignoring Turkey or Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus can be realized in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he was quoted as saying by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.

Turkey has two drilling ships, Fatih and Yavuz, and an exploration vessel, Barbaros in parts of Cyprus’ EEZ it doesn’t recognize and the EU’s soft sanctions haven’t worked, the bloc reluctant to get tougher, fearful Erdogan will unleash more refugees and migrants on Greek islands.

Greece, which along with Turkey and the former Colonial ruler the United Kingdom, which still has military bases there, are guarantors of security for the divided islands but Athens warnings that security in the region is being undermined were ignored by Erdogan, continuing to thumb his nose at the international community as his country’s drilling in Cypriot sovereign waters goes on undeterred.

With Turkish warships nearby guarding the Barbaros – Turkey said it will eventually have four ships in the part of Cyprus’ EEZ it doesn’t recognize – France said it will defend its energy company and send frigates to protect an energy vessel from its country’s company Total.

Talks to reunify the island after 45 years of division collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Erdogan said they would never remove their 35,000-strong standing army and wanted the right of military intervention again.

Cypriot President Anastasiades has offered to share potentially lucrative energy revenues with Turkish-Cypriots in the occupied territory only Turkey recognizes but Erdogan and Akinci said they want their side to take part in the licensing procedure too.

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