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Turkey draws another EU rebuke for latest plans at sea

File photo: On board the Yavuz

Turkey drew another rebuke from the European Union on Sunday when it said its Yavuz energy drill ship would extend operations in waters off Cyprus until mid-September.

Yavuz will be accompanied by three other Turkish ships according to a maritime notice that added “all vessels are strongly advised not to enter” the area.

A standoff has intensified in recent weeks between Turkey and Greece over oil and gas exploration rights at sea, and even involved a minor collision between their frigates last week.

Turkey’s renewed drilling plan covers a zone delineated by Cyprus and Egypt and raises tensions, said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who called for an immediate halt to Turkey’s activities and the beginning of dialogue.

“This action runs counter and undermines efforts to resume dialogue and negotiations, and to pursue immediate de-escalation,” he said in a statement.

Cairo and Athens signed a territorial zoning deal earlier this month. While Paris has stepped in to criticise what it calls Turkey’s provocations, Ankara says it will not back down from defending its legal rights.

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday “the language of sanctions and threats” will not deter Turkey.

The eastern Mediterranean was also among the topics of discussion among US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on Sunday.

According to Principal Deputy Spokesperson, Cale Brown, Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Cavusoglu discussed issues of mutual concern, including the urgent need to reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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