Cyprus, Greece, and Egypt have called on the Turkish government to cease what they call unlawful and unacceptable drilling for gas and oil inside waters where the Cypriots have exclusive economic rights, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
The trio said this in a joint statement after Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades met Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the capital, Cairo on Tuesday.
The three countries said they are concerned over Turkey’s latest attempts to conduct an “illegal” operation in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.
They called on Ankara to “end its provocative actions” in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, including exploring for oil and gas in Cyprus’ territorial waters, which they condemned as “unlawful.”
“Turkey’s unacceptable practices and drilling … are a blatant assault on the rights of the Cypriot Republic and the international law,” Anastasiades said during Tuesday’s joint news conference.
He added that Cyprus would resort to “all available diplomatic means to halt Turkey’s aggression”.
El-Sissi also held forth that unilateral practices by the Turkish government risk destabilizing the whole eastern Mediterranean and “damage the interests” of its countries.
Ankara announced last week that it had sent a drilling ship to the area where Greek Cypriot authorities have already awarded hydrocarbon exploration licenses to Italian and French companies.
Although Greece has accused Turkey of undermining security in the eastern Mediterranean by drilling for oil and gas around Cyprus, Turkey argued that it is only protecting its own interests and those of Turkish Cypriots.
Ankara also rejected in July the Greek and EU assertions that Turkey’s drilling for gas and oil off Cyprus was illegitimate, arguing that they revealed the EU could not be an impartial mediator on the Cyprus problem.
The dispute among the countries arose after Fatih, the Turkish state’s first drilling ship began exploring for oil and gas in waters claimed both by Cyprus and by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) in June. The Yavuz, a second ship, also dropped anchor off Cyprus later in July.
Fatih and Yavuz the two Turkish drillships already drilled two wells in waters to the island’s east and west.
A breakaway state in the north of the island, the KKTC, is recognized solely by the Turkish government.