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Second Turkish Drillship Arrives off Cyprus Coast

Second Turkish Drillship Arrives off Cyprus Coast

Monday, 8 July, 2019 - 09:00
Members of the press and officials on a tour, disembark the drillship Yavuz scheduled to be dispatched to the Mediterranean, at the port of Dilovasi, outside Istanbul, Thursday, June 20, 2019. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
A second Turkish drillship arrived on Monday off Cyprus’ northeastern coast to drill for oil and natural gas, Refinitiv Eikon shipping data showed.

In a move that could further strain ties with Cyprus over exploration rights, Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez was quoted by state-owned Anadolu news agency on Saturday as saying the Yavuz would start drilling within a week.

Cyprus on Monday “strongly condemned” the move, saying it was an infringement of its sovereign rights by Turkey.

"This planned second drilling ... is an escalation by Turkey of its repeated violations of Cyprus's sovereign rights based on the UN Law of the Sea and international law, and is a most serious violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus," Cyprus's presidency in Nicosia said in a statement.

Yavuz had been at the southern Turkish port of Mersin doing final tests and taking on supplies before departing for Cyprus on Sunday. The shipping data showed that it arrived off the coast of the Karpas peninsula overnight.

Turkey already has a drilling ship, Fatih, off the west coast of Cyprus and Nicosia issued arrest warrants for its crew in June.

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

Ankara, which does not have diplomatic relations with Cyprus, claims that certain areas in Cyprus’s offshore maritime zone, known as an EEZ, fall under the jurisdiction of Turkey or of Turkish Cypriots, who have their own breakaway state in the north of the island which is recognized only by Turkey.

Cyprus has divided its EEZ off its southern coast into 13 blocks, or areas. Turkey says parts of three blocks off the island's west coast fall within its own continental shelf. Turkish Cypriots claim most of seven blocks in the east.

The Cypriot government says any potential gas proceeds will be shared equitably with Turkish Cypriots after a reunification deal is agreed upon and has created a fund into which all such revenues will flow.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Several peacemaking endeavors have failed and the discovery of offshore resources has increasingly complicated peace negotiations.

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