Published: Thu, July 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

US Urges Turkey to Stop Drilling Near Cyprus

US Urges Turkey to Stop Drilling Near Cyprus

Two Turkish drillships, Yavuz and Fatih, are now anchored off the coast of Cyprus in order to drill for oil and gas.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement on Turkey's attempt to conduct a new drilling operation in Cyprus's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), calling on Turkey to abandon its plans.

Turkey contests the rights of Cyprus to explore for gas, sending its own drilling ships to stake claims around the island.

"We reject the statements by the Greek Foreign Ministry and European Union officials which describe these activities of our country as illegitimate", the Turkish foreign ministry statement said.

The Turkish Fatih ship started drilling last month 42 miles (67 kilometers) off Cyprus' west coast.

The second Turkish vessel, "Yavuz, ' has sailed to an area off the Karpas peninsula on Cyprus" east coast.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup.

However, because of the concave shape of the Eastern Mediterranean, there is an overlap between the areas that each country can claim, requiring negotiation and compromise - and opportunity, say some, for leverage in ongoing conflicts.

"Israel follows with serious concern recent steps taken by Turkey in the waters off Cyprus's northeast coast", said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, reiterating full support for Cyprus in exercising its sovereign rights.

The discovery of huge gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has sparked a dispute between European Union member Cyprus and Turkey, which last month sent a second ship, the Yavuz, to search for oil and gas in the region.

Brussels called on Monday Turkey's "unnecessary escalation" and urged Ankara to stop drilling because it is illegal and can bring economic sanctions to them.

In a warning to Ankara, the State Department urged "Turkish authorities to halt these operations" and encourage all parties "to act with restraint and refrain from actions that increase tensions in the region".

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