Cyprus Defence Minister Savvas Angelides is set to travel to Italy on Monday to meet with his counterpart Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Buerine and discuss recent developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region including Turkey’s illegal activities within the Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
During the meeting, “the two ministers will also discuss ways of further stregthening and enhancing the two countries’ relations, placing an emphasis on security and defence issues as well as on the development of PESCO programmes,” according to a press release.
Turkey announced its intention to start drilling off Cyprus and sent out the Turkish drill ship “Fatih” on May 4 last year, which remains anchored 36 nautical miles west of Akamas peninsula, in an area that falls within the EEZ and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus. A second Turkish drill ship, “Yavuz”, arrived off the island’s north-eastern coast on 8 July 2019.
In response, EU Foreign Ministers endorsed on 15 July 2019 measures concerning Turkey’s illegal drilling in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus. In accordance with the 20 June 2019 European Council conclusions, Foreign Ministers also invited the High Representative and the European Commission to continue working on options for targeted measures in light of Turkey’s continued drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Egypt, France, Cyprus and Greece strongly condemned continued Turkish actions in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus and its territorial waters, in a joint communique issued by the four countries’ foreign ministers on January 8 after a meeting in Cairo, in which the Italian foreign minister also took part in a consultative framework.
The four foreign minister’s called “upon Turkey to immediately cease all illegal exploration activities.”