Turkey Sending Another Energy Drill Ship Off Cyprus

Αssociated Press

FILE- In this Tuesday, July 9, 2019 photo, a helicopter flies over Turkey's drilling ship, 'Fatih' dispatched towards the eastern Mediterranean, near Cyprus. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)

A day before Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was set to meet Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci for a critical session, Turkey said it would send a second energy drill ship into the island’s sovereign waters, continuing to defy the European Union, Greece and United States.

Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said the second exploration vessel, will be dispatched to the Eastern Mediterranean by the end of August, said Kathimerini.

“In August, our second seismic vessel, the MTA Oruc Reis, will also be sent to the Mediterranean. So we will continue to do our research and drilling activities in the Mediterranean with the two seismic and the two drilling vessels,” Donmez told reporters on the Yavuz drillship off the northeastern coast of Cyprus.

Turkey said that the Yavuz had already begun drilling activities south of the Karpasia Peninsula in an area of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) it claims as its own, despite backing for the legitimate government to license foreign companies to hunt for oil and gas.

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan there won’t be peace on Cyprus – where Turkey is drilling offshore for energy – unless Turkey and Turkish-Cypriots get their way.

The Turkish-Cypriot side isn’t satisfied with pledges from Anastasiades that potentially lucrative revenues would be shared with them and want to take part in the licensing of foreign companies licensed to hunt for oil and gas.

Erdogan said there won’t be stability in the Eastern Mediterranean unless the interests of Turkey and Turkish-Cypriots who have been unlawfully occupying the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion are protected, said Kathimerini.

He added: “Stability in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean can only be achieved if care is given to the rights of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” referring to what Turkey calls the occupied area as the only country in the world which recognizes it.

A day earlier at the same conference, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu showed off a map indicating what Turkey claimed as its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) that goes from Rhodes to the western coast of Cyprus.

Another ship, the Fatih, is proceeding with surveying work west of the Akamas Peninsula in western Cyprus with reports there’s a better chance of finding gas deposits there as energy becomes a volatile catalyst threatening to upend reunification hopes.

Besides the energy research vessels, Turkey has warships in the region to protect them, increasing fears there could be a military conflict, accidental or otherwise and as the EU, wary of Erdogan sending more refugees and migrants to Greek islands, hasn’t toughened sanctions.