Cyprus strongly deplores moves by Turkey to start natural gas drilling in Cypriot EEZ

Cyprus strongly deplores moves by Turkey to start natural gas drilling in Cypriot EEZ

NICOSIA, (Rahnuma): Cyprus on Saturday strongly deplored moves by Turkey to start natural gas drilling within the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ), saying it is bound to raise tensions as UN efforts are under way to resume peace negotiations.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades branded Turkey’s move as unlawful and added that actions are being taken to counter it. He did not go into details, though, saying that the foreign minister who coordinates this action will make a briefing on the issue.

Anastasiades noted that Turkey’s actions came as UN efforts are under way to resume peace negotiations.

“Turkey’s actions can’t help this dialogue and it is time for everyone to understand that unfortunately there are obstacles that reasonably can’t lead to the resumption of dialogue despite our political will,” Anastasiades said.

Shortly after Anastasiades’s statement, Federica Mogherini, high representative of the the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, issued a strongly worded statement deploring Turkish actions as illegal.

In the statement, she called on Turkey to refrain from “illegal actions” and added that there would be EU response “in full solidarity with Cyprus.”

“We express grave concern over Turkey’s announced intention to carry out drilling activities within the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus,” Mogherini’s statement read.

According to the statement, in March 2018, the European Council strongly condemned Turkey’s continued illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“In this context, we urgently call on Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone and refrain from any such illegal action to which the European Union will respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus,” the statement noted.

Turkey said on Friday it has issued a notice to mariners blocking entry into a sea zone about 60 kilometers off the western city of Paphos, saying it has sent there its drilling ship to carry out offshore exploratory drilling, according to media reports.

Cyprus was split along ethnic lines in 1974, when Turkey intervened militarily following a coup by Athens-backed Greek Cypriots. Numerous reunification talks between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots have failed.

Turkey does not recognize Cyprus as a state. And the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey.

UN-led negotiations since 1976 have failed to produce a solution to the problem. The UN is currently engaged in consultations with the parties involved to obtain their consent for the resumption of negotiations.

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