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Turkey Will Keep Energy Drilling Offshore, Cyprus Appeals to EU

May 5, 2019

With Turkey saying it will keep drilling for oil and gas near Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) where foreign energy companies are hunting too, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he’ll take the case to the European Council in a potentially further damaging blow to Turkey’s European Union hopes.

Anastasiades is set to bring the issue up at an informal meeting of the heads of the 28 EU countries on May 9 in Sibu, Romania, trying to further tighten the vise on Turkey after the bloc had swiftly moved to protect Cyprus.

Cyprus has repeatedly appealed as well to the United Nations but been ignored even though Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is keen on restarting unity talks between Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots after the July, 2017 collapse of negotiations at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana where he failed to broker a deal.

With Turkey’s EU hopes already sliding away after Germany and France said it may be time to end the negotiations, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become more aggressive in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.

After he’d sent in warships in a bid to keep out foreign companies and said that Anastasiades’ offer to share potentially lucrative energy revenues with Turkish-Cypriot unlawfully occupying the northern third of the island since a 1974 Turkish invasion, Erdogan said he wanted Turkish-Cypriots to take part in the licensing of energy companies.

Diplomatic sources told Kathimerini that the Cypriot side was satisfied that the UN Security Council was talking about the problem and had raised concerns Turkey’s drilling could further set back reunity hopes.

After Turkey issued an irregular NAVTEX warning other vessels its ships would be drilling off Paphos until Dec. 3, the drillship Fatih, with three support vessels, took up position 83 nautical miles from the Turkish coast, well within Cyprus’ EEZ and shelf.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar repeated his country’s hardline stance about drilling in Cyprus’ sovereign waters, telling the Anadolu News Agency Turkey would protect its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea under international law.

“As a guarantor country, Turkey is determined to always protect the rights of the people of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and not to allow the fait accompli,” Akar added, referring to what only Turkey calls the occupied territory on Cyprus.

“Akar called on Greece for common sense and cooperation and added that the energy sources in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean should serve as a bridge for peace, dialogue and mutual development,” Anadolu’s report said.

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