Turkey draws ire of EU over Cyprus drilling

Cyprus, a member of the EU, says it has exclusive economic rights in the waters and Turkey's actions violate its sovereignty.

By ALEX WINSTON
June 21, 2019 03:27
1 minute read.
Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz sets sail in Izmit Bay, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, off the p

Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz sets sail in Izmit Bay, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, off the port of Dilovasi, Turkey, June 20, 2019. (photo credit: MURAD SEZER/REUTERS)

Turkey drew condemnation from the EU this week after sending a second vessel to Cyprus to begin drilling for natural gas in waters Cyprus claims belongs exclusively to the island republic.

The vessel, the 230-meter long Yavuz, was launched at a ceremony in Turkey attended by Minister of Energy Fatih Donmez. Yavuz is to begin operations in early July and will drill to a depth of 3,300 meters.

Donmez said, "We are warning actors from outside the region that are forming cooperations with Cyprus: Do not chase illusions that will yield no results."

The first ship Turkey sent, Fatih, has been drilling off the Cypriot coast since October. 

Cyprus, a member of the EU, says it has exclusive economic rights in the waters and Turkey's actions violate its sovereignty, it is also threatening to arrest the crew of Fatih if the drilling operations continue.

EU leaders warned Turkey to end its gas drilling in disputed waters or face action from the bloc, after Greece and Cyprus pressed other EU states to speak out.

An EU statement released on Thursday said Turkey's drilling is "illegal" and that the bloc "stands ready to respond appropriately."

Options open to the EU include sanctions, freezing the assets of Turkish companies and potentially suspending Turkey's application to join the EU, although talks have been frozen for over a year.

Cyprus has been split in two since 1974, when Turkey launched an invasion of the island. Since then, it has been split into the Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, an entity which only Turkey recognizes. 

Turkey and Cyprus have no official diplomatic ties.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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