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Turkey vows to keep drilling off Cyprus despite warnings

13 July 2019

Turkey and Cyprus are at loggerheads over offshore fuel reserves within the eastern Mediterranean which can be claimed by the Cypriots and disputed by Ankara.

The only reference in the draft to the possibility of specific sanctions is in the final paragraph, which states that Council calls on the European Commission to continue working on possible restrictive measures against Turkey if it continues drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, soft-pedaling again what to do.

The country's foreign ministry criticised European Union condemnation of its efforts to tap the region for potentially lucrative energy resources, saying the bloc could not be considered an impartial mediator for the divided island. The step was taken "with the aim of improving the communication between the communities and bringing all Cypriots closer together", a joint statement from Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said.

The Yavuz drillship dropped anchor on Monday to the south of Cyprus' Karpasia peninsula, a jutting northeastern panhandle.

In May, Ankara sent the ship Fatih into Cyprus' exclusive economic zone to begin drilling there, while the Yavuz was deployed last month to search for oil and gas to the east.

Turkey already has a ship off Cyprus and Cyprus issued arrest warrants for its crew in June.

European Union leaders have squarely sided with Cyprus within the dispute, declaring final month that they're prepared to think about sanctions if Turkey continues drilling.

In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus's annexation by Greece, Ankara intervened as a guarantor power.

The United States and Egypt also joined a chorus of criticism this week.

While Cyprus wants a tougher line on Turkey, it as failed to have arrested the crew of a Turkish ship drilling in the EEZ, parts of which Turkey doesn't recognize, after issuing an global warrant.

Turkey vows to keep drilling off Cyprus despite warnings