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Turkey announces new drilling, dismisses East Med Gas Forum initiative (Updated)

The first meeting of the East Med Gas Forum earlier this month

Turkey announced on Friday it would start a new drilling off Cyprus in a new target dubbed as ‘Lefkosia1’.

The drilling was announced by Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez.

According to the minister, the Yavuz drillship, that completed its operations in ‘Morphou’ target some two weeks ago, is now on its way to ‘Lefkosia1’.

He also said that Turkey’s other drillship, the Fatih, is about to complete operations in ‘Famagusta 1’ and will return to Mersin for new coordinates for its next drilling.

Ankara has been objecting to Cyprus’ hydrocarbons programme calling it a unilateral move that ignores the rights of Turkish Cypriots but also of Turkey’s claiming that some of the Republic’s offshore blocks fall within her continental shelf.

In the meantime, the Turkish foreign ministry, reacting to the agreement signed by Cyprus and six other countries on Thursday to formally establish the East Med Gas Forum (EMGF) as an international organisation said that initiatives against Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots will never contribute to peace and cooperation in the region.

In response, President Nicos Anastasiades reiterated on Friday that Cyprus’ energy plans are not aimed against Turkey or at excluding any country as long as it fully respects international law and their neighbouring countries’ sovereign rights.

In a written statement, the Turkish foreign ministry’s spokesman Hami Aksoy said on Thursday the East Med Gas Forum was in fact “an unrealistic initiative launched by some countries with political motives, under illusions of excluding Turkey from energy equation in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

The ceremony took place in Cairo and was attended by the energy ministers of Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and Palestine. The forum’s stated aim is to develop the region’s gas market.

“Had the purpose of the forum indeed been cooperation, surely Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots would have been invited,” the Turkish official said. He added that such initiatives launched against Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots will never contribute to peace and cooperation in the region or succeed.

“Consequently, this initiative constitutes further proof that countries which have left our calls for dialogue and cooperation unanswered, are still pursuing vain hopes. It also demonstrates the rightfulness of our policies in the region.”

He reiterated that Turkey would continue to protect her legitimate rights and of the Turkish Cypriots in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Turkish Cypriot side had proposed the establishment of a joint committee for cooperation on natural gas management which Turkey is backing but was rejected by the government as it distracts from the essence of the Cyprus problem.

The Greek Cypriot side maintains Turkish Cypriots can share potential benefits, but only after a solution to the Cyprus problem.



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