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Council of EU Threatens Turkey With Response Measures Over Drilling Off Cyprus Coast

Sputnik News

21:11 18.06.2019

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - The Council of the European Union on Tuesday called upon Turkey to respect the rights of Cyprus in connection with Ankara's drilling for energy reserves off the island's coast and instructed the European Commission and other bodies to immediately submit response options.

"The Council expresses serious concerns over Turkey's current illegal drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and deplores that Turkey has not yet responded to the European Union's repeated calls to cease such activities," the Council said in a statement.

According to the EU body, the relations between Ankara and the bloc could be marred by the Turkish "illegal actions" in the region.

"The Council calls on Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus, and refrain from any such actions. The EU will closely monitor developments and stands ready to respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus. The Council invites the Commission and the European External Action Service to submit options for appropriate measures without delay," the statement concluded.

Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Faruk Kaymakci lashed out at the European Union, saying that the bloc had no authority to define the boundaries in the Mediterranean. The official added that Ankara hoped that energy would become a sphere of cooperation, but not "tension or conflict."

Prior to that, the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources stated that Ankara considered international calls to halt its offshore drilling in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone as unacceptable.

The first gas deposits were discovered off the coast of Cyprus back in 2011 and since then have become a hot issue. The situation is aggravated by the island's disputed status and the issue of ownership of its natural resources. Turkey has repeatedly stated that it cannot be excluded from any project that involves the drilling of hydrocarbon fields in the eastern Mediterranean region and on the Cypriot shelf.

Cyprus has been long de facto divided into the Republic of Cyprus and the non-recognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In 1974, Turkey sent its troops to the island in response to an attempted coup by the Greek military. As a result, Ankara occupied nearly 40 percent of the country's territory, where the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was proclaimed in 1983. Turkey has so far remained the only nation in the world that recognizes the republic as a sovereign state.


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