US says deeply concerned by Turkey’s intent to drill off Cyprus

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a Turkish ship had started drilling in areas for which northern Cypriot authorities had issued a permit. (File/Reuters)
Updated 06 May 2019
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US says deeply concerned by Turkey’s intent to drill off Cyprus

  • Turkey and the Greek Cypriot government have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean
  • Any escalation between Turkey and the United States could put more pressure on relations already strained on several fronts

ISTANBUL: The US is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by Cyprus as its exclusive economic zone, a State Department spokesperson said on Sunday.
Turkish media on Saturday cited Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying a Turkish ship had started drilling in areas for which northern Cypriot authorities had issued a permit, a move likely to stoke tensions with Cyprus and Greece.
Turkey and the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean, a region thought to be rich in natural gas.
“The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its Exclusive Economic Zone,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
“This step is highly provocative and risks raising tensions in the region. We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations and encourage all parties to act with restraint,” the statement said.
Any escalation between Turkey and the United States could put more pressure on relations already strained on several fronts, including missile defense and military operations in Syria.
Cavusoglu had said in February that Turkey would soon begin drilling for oil and gas near Cyprus and on Saturday state-owned Anadolu news agency reported him as saying during a trip to northern Cyprus that drilling had begun.
Turkey launched its first drillship “Fatih” in October to drill off the coast of Turkey’s southern Antalya province. It said a second ship that it purchased would operate in the Black Sea, but was diverted to the Cyprus area.
Breakaway north Cyprus, which is supported by Turkey, says any offshore wealth also belongs to them, as partners in the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960.
The island was divided in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Countless peacemaking endeavours have failed, and offshore wealth has increasingly complicated peace negotiations, with Greek Cypriots saying the matter is not up for discussion.


Philippines’ Duterte loses patience, orders trash shipped back Canada

Updated 22 May 2019
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Philippines’ Duterte loses patience, orders trash shipped back Canada

  • Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction not backed by the Canadian government
  • Canada has since offered to take the rubbish back

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered his government to hire a private shipping company to send 69 containers of garbage back to Canada and leave them within its territorial waters if it refuses to accept the trash, his spokesman said on Wednesday.
“The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nation,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told a media briefing.
Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction not backed by the Canadian government.
Canada has since offered to take the rubbish back and the two countries are in the process of arranging the transfer.
But Canada missed a May 15 deadline set by Manila to take back the shipment, prompting the Philippines to withdraw top diplomats from Canada last week.
“Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously. The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada treating this country as a dump site,” Panelo said.
The Canadian embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Philippines has made several diplomatic protests to Canada since a 2016 court ruling that the garbage be returned.
The consignments were labelled as containing plastics to be recycled in the Philippines but were filled with a variety of rubbish including diapers, newspapers and water bottles.
The issue is not the only one to strain ties between the two countries.
Last year, Duterte ordered the military to cancel a $233 million deal to buy 16 helicopters from Canada, after Ottawa expressed concern they could be used to fight rebels.