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Cyprus, Greece, Egypt call on Turkey to end ‘provocative’ actions (updated)

Anastasiades, Sisi and Mitsotakis in Cairo

Cyprus, Greece and Egypt called on Turkey on Tuesday to “end its provocative actions” in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, including exploring for oil in Cyprus’ territorial waters, which they called “a breach of international law”.

On Thursday, Turkey said it had sent a ship to the area where authorities have already awarded hydrocarbon exploration rights to Italian and French companies.

“The Heads of State and Government expressed their grave concern over the current escalation within the maritime areas of the eastern part of the Mediterranean, condemning the continuing Turkish actions in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus and its territorial waters, in violation of international law,” Cyprus, Greece and Egypt said.

Their joint statement was released after Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Nicos Anastasiades met Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo.

The three countries expressed concern at “new attempts to conduct illegal exploration” in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, the statement said.

They called on Turkey to terminate its provocative actions and to contribute constructively and in concrete terms for the  resumption of structured and result oriented negotiations for a comprehensive and sustainable settlement of the Cyprus problem on the basis of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

Such a solution must be compatible with the Republic of Cyprus’ capacity as an EU member state and fully safeguard its independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security.

“To this end, the termination of the anachronistic security arrangements and the withdrawal of foreign forces remain a sine qua non for the Republic of Cyprus as a sovereign State. They stressed that the United Nations remains the only framework through which a settlement can be achieved.”

In July, Greece accused Turkey of undermining security in the eastern Mediterranean by drilling for oil and gas around Cyprus.

Earlier that month, Turkey said it rejected Greek and EU assertions that Turkish drilling for gas and oil off Cyprus was illegitimate, and said they showed the EU could not be an impartial mediator on the Cyprus problem.

In January, Eastern Mediterranean countries meeting in Cairo, including the three which issued the statement, agreed to set up a forum to create a regional gas market, cut infrastructure costs and offer competitive prices, part of efforts to transform the region into a major energy hub.

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