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Ankara ‘will not hesitate’ to dispatch third drillship to the region

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

Ankara will “not hesitate” to dispatch a third drillship to the eastern Mediterranean or to waters off Cyprus, Turkey’s foreign minister said Thursday.

But that would depend on the outcome of ongoing seismic surveys, Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkish state television.

Asked about where the third drillship, just acquired by Ankara and due in Cyprus next month, might be deployed, Cavusoglu said it was not clear yet.

It would depend on which gas targets are identified by the two seismic survey vessels – the Oruç Reis and the Barbaros – currently operating.

“The third drillship could be dispatched to either the Aegean, the Black Sea, or the eastern Mediterranean,” Cavusoglu said. “This will be a decision taken by our ministry of energy. But the third drillship is on its way and if necessary…we shall not hesitate to send it to the eastern Mediterranean and the area around Cyprus.”

Cavusoglu went on to urge Greece to “compromise” and to strike up maritime agreements with Turkey similar to that recently signed between Ankara and Tripoli.

“Do not play games behind our back. Learn how to share the eastern Mediterranean,” he said.

Late last year Turkey signed an accord with Libya’s internationally recognised government that sought to create an exclusive economic zone from Turkey’s southern Mediterranean shore to Libya’s northeast coast.

Greece and Cyprus, which have long had maritime and territorial disputes with Turkey, say the accord is void and violates the international law of the sea. They see it as a resource-grab designed to scupper the development of east Mediterranean gas and destabilize rivals.

Meanwhile speaking at a workshop in Athens, energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis accused Ankara of using illegitimate means in a bid to “turn the eastern Mediterranean into a Turkish lake.”

Lakkotrypis dismissed the notion that Cyprus should have frozen its energy exploration plans.

The event was attended by US ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt.

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