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EU has ‘grave concerns’ about Turkish plans to drill in Cyprus EEZ (updated)

File photo: a Turkish drill ship

The EU on Saturday expressed concern over Turkey’s intention to drill for gas in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and called on Ankara to respect the island’s rights and refrain from illegal activity to which the bloc would respond appropriately.

In a written statement issued on Saturday High Representative Federica Mogherini expressed grave concern over Turkey’s announced intention to carry out drilling activities within the island’s EEZ.

“We urgently call on Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone and refrain from any such illegal action to which the European Union will respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus,” Mogherini said.

Later on Saturday the government said action against Turkey is already being undertaken at a legal, political and diplomatic levels, utilising all possibilities, and in particular within the framework of the European Union.

“This provocative action by Turkey constitutes a flagrant violation of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus according to International and European Union Law,” a press release issued by the Foreign Ministry said.

It added that “at the same time, it serves to reveal the real intentions of Ankara in relation to the Cyprus question and explains why Turkey has rejected the proposal for an informal meeting, in a ‘Crans Montana format’, to discuss the Cyprus problem. It was precisely in this context that the UN Security Council just recently underlined the need to avoid actions that damage the chances of success and urged the implementation and further development of confidence-building measures.”

In March 2018 the European Council called on Turkey “to cease these illegal actions and respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus to explore and exploit its natural resources in accordance with EU and International Law.

In light of the above, action is already being undertaken at a legal, political and diplomatic level, utilising all possibilities, and in particular within the framework of the European Union, the foreign ministry concluded.

Earlier Saturday, President Nicos Anastasiades said Turkey’s unlawful actions came immediately after the Security Council’s recommendation that any action should be avoided in a bid to facilitate the resumption of the talks.

Turkey said it planned to carry out offshore drilling in an area around 60 kilometres west of Paphos while a survey vessel was also on the way.

Moscow also expressed concern about the escalation EEZ. A Russian ministry of foreign affairs announcement said they are “deeply concerned about information regarding the escalation of the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“We firmly [believe] that any economic activity should correspond to the norms of international law. We call upon Turkey not to undertake actions that could cause tension and create additional obstacles on the way to the settlement of the Cyprus problem,” the announcement concluded.

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