The European Union (EU) scolded Turkey on Monday as a second Turkish ship dropped anchor off Cyprus to drill for oil and gas.
It referred to a last month’s conclusions of the European Council(EC), which stated Turkey’s ‘illegal’ drilling may bring sanctions against it by the EU.
“Turkey’s declared intention to illegally conduct a new drilling operation northeast of Cyprus is of grave concern. This second planned drilling operation is a further unacceptable escalation which violates the sovereignty of Cyprus”, said Federica Maria Mogherini, EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission.
EU’s Mogherini once again called on Turkish authorities to show restraint and respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus in accordance with international law, refraining from any such actions.
Similarly, the presidency of the Republic of Cyprus accused Turkey of repeatedly violating its sovereign rights according to the United Nations (UN) Law of the Sea and international law, defining the violation ‘the most serious’ one.
On Saturday, Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez told Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu (AA) that Turkey’s second drill ship, the Yavuz, was expected to start drilling off Karpasia (Kaspas) peninsula within a week in terms of a license issued by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC).
The KKTC is a breakaway state in the north of the island recognized only by Turkey.
The Yavuz would reportedly drill until September 30 with the help of three supporting vessels. Turkish military drones were surveying the area around the Yavuz, Turkish media outlets reported.
Regarding the first drill ship, the Fatih, the Greek Cypriot authorities have protested to the UN over the violations of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under international law and has initiated legal proceedings last week against personnel of the state-run Turkey Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) and its partnering three companies for encroaching on the island’s continental shelf.
The Greek Cypriot government would do the same for the Yavuz, according to a report by the Cyprus Mail on Saturday.
The Fatih has been anchored about 68 kilometers (42 miles) off the southwestern Cypriot resort town of Paphos since early May and started drilling in June.
Both ships have been escorted by Turkish navy frigates.
Conflicting sides – KKTC vs Greek Cypriot regime
Both sides consider the drilling waters to be their EEZ, claiming a share in any offshore wealth. The Western world, including the United States (US), are rallying behind the Greek Cypriot regime in the dispute.
The EU-member Greek Cypriot regime has discovered natural gas in areas off the south of the island but has not extracted anything yet.
They have formed a cooperation bloc with Israel and Egypt which are also involved in drilling for natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean. The bloc has called on Turkey to support their initiative, however, Turkey rejects it.
Establishment of a joint energy committee to discuss the issues on the island’s energy resources and revenues was previously proposed by the KKTC. Turkey had backed the proposal, while Cyprus and Greece have rejected it.
Cyprus was split in two in 1974 after a Turkey invaded in response to a coup initiated by Greece. The coup leaders attempted to seize control of the island in a bid to unite it with Greece.