Cyprus on Friday said Turkey’s action in sending a drill ship to an area Nicosia has licensed for offshore hydrocarbons exploration was a ‘severe escalation’ of what it called Ankara’s violations of the island’s sovereign rights.
Turkey has sent an oil and gas drilling ship to waters off southern Cyprus where the Cyprus government has already awarded exploration rights to Italian and French companies.
In a strongly-worded statement, the Cypriot presidency accused Turkey of ‘bullying tactics of an era long gone’ and called on Turkey to withdraw its assets from the area.
“This new provocation is exemplary of Turkey’s defiance of the European Union’s, and the international community’s, repeated calls to cease its illegal activities,” it said.
The statement also urged Turkey to respect the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus to explore and exploit its natural resources within its maritime zones.
“It is yet another proof of the utterly provocative and aggressive behaviour of Ankara, which has chosen to speedily and irreversibly depart from international legality, thus putting security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean at risk.”
On Friday morning the drill ship, the Yavuz, had stopped about 51 nautical miles southwest of Cyprus.
Turkey has already drilled two wells in waters to the island’s east and west, triggering strong protests from Nicosia and the European Union.