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Turkey slams Cyprus warrant of arrests for drillship crew

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has slammed the Greek Cypriot Administration’s (GCA) arrest warrant decision for crew members of the Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih.  

“Any such warrants are null and void for us. Nobody should doubt that we will give the necessary response if it dares [to do so],” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement, the state news agency reported.

“Turkey will resolutely continue its petrol and natural gas exploration and drilling as planned in order to protect the rights of both its own continental shelf and the rights of Turkish Cypriots, who are equal partners of the island,” Aksoy added.

The Turkish Hurriyet daily reported that Greek Cypriot authorities issued arrest warrants against 25 people including crew assisting the Fatih and officials at firms partnered with the state-run Turkey Petroleum Corporation (TPAO).

Officials at two US companies and one Croatian firm which partnered with TPAO were among those issued with warrants, the newspaper reported.

Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez stressed that Turkey’s exploration activities are continuing without any disruption by the threat of arrests, Anadolu reported.

Ankara has long disagreed with Greece and the Nicosia government over  Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and natural gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s oil and gas drilling plans in the west of the island angered Greece, which says that the territory belongs to them and Ankara has no right to explore for energy in the area.

Cypriot authorities warned Turkey to stop drilling in Cyprus’s EEZ and vowed to arrest the Turkish team. However, Turkey is insisting to continue the exploration and drilling activities claiming that the activities are legal as international law allows it.

The Turkish government says that not only Cypriot and Greek governments but the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus must receive a fair share from gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean.

Cyprus island split into two in 1974 and only Turkey recognizes the northern part.

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