EU and Egypt warn Turkey against drilling off Cyprus

According to reports in the Cypriot media, the Turkish drilling will encroach on Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone. (AFP/File photo)
Updated 04 May 2019

EU and Egypt warn Turkey against drilling off Cyprus

  • Turkey said its vessels would be carrying out drilling operations in the Mediterranean until September
  • According to reports in the Cypriot media, the operation will encroach on Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone

BRUSSELS: The EU and Egypt on Saturday urged Turkey to reconsider plans to start exploratory drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus, already condemned as illegal by the European Union.

The Egyptian foreign ministry warned of the repercussions of "any unilateral measures on the security and stability of the Eastern Mediterranean region."

"Any actions by states in the region need to abide by the rules of international law and its provisions," the ministry statement said.

The EU's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said: “We express grave concern over Turkey’s announced intention to carry out drilling activities within the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus,” .
“In March 2018, the European Council strongly condemned Turkey’s continued illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean,” she added.
“In this context, we urgently call on Turkey to show restraint,” she added, warning that the EU would “respond appropriately to any illegal action that violated Cyprus’s rights.”
On Friday Turkey sent out a message on NAVTEX, the international maritime navigational telex system, announcing its vessels would be carrying out drilling operations in the Mediterranean until September.
According to reports in the Cypriot media, the operation will encroach on Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone.
Turkey first announced it would be drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus back in February.
The discovery of gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has prompted claims by the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government and Ankara, which backs a breakaway Turkish Cypriot administration in the north of the island.
European Union member Cyprus has been pressing to develop offshore gas deposits and has signed deals with energy giants Eni, Total and ExxonMobil that have seen them carry out exploratory drilling.
Ankara claims that such exploration deprives the Turkish Cypriot minority of benefiting from the natural resources that surround the island.
In February 2018 a drillship for Italy’s Eni abandoned an attempt to search for gas off Cyprus after it was blocked by Turkish warships.
Turkey has had thousands of troops stationed in the northern third of the island since invading in 1974 in response to a Greek military junta-sponsored coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece.
The northern part of the island was declared the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is only recognized by Ankara. UN-sponsored efforts to reunify the island have failed.


Turkey’s rulers plot law changes to block breakaway parties’ power grab

Updated 28 May 2020

Turkey’s rulers plot law changes to block breakaway parties’ power grab

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP is working on a plan to stop parliamentary deputies from transferring to other parties

ANKARA: Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is looking at ways to change electoral laws in order to block challenges to power from two new breakaway political parties.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP and its nationalist coalition partner the MHP are working on a plan to stop parliamentary deputies from transferring to other parties — a move that has fueled rumors of an imminent snap election in the country.

Under Turkish election rules, political parties must settle their organization procedures in at least half of the nation’s cities and hold their first convention six months ahead of an election date.

Any political party with 20 lawmakers in Turkey’s parliament is entitled to take part in elections and be eligible for financial aid from the treasury for the electoral process.

The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has hinted at the possibility of transferring some CHP lawmakers to the newly founded parties to secure their participation in elections.

Turkey’s ex-premier, Ahmet Davutoglu, and the country’s former economy czar, Ali Babacan, both longtime allies of Erdogan, recently left the AKP to establish their own opposition groups, and have come under pressure from the AKP and MHP to leave their parties out of the race.

Babacan has been critical of Erdogan’s move away from a parliamentary system of governance in Turkey to one providing the president with wide-ranging powers without any strong checks and balances.

“The AKP is abolishing what it built with its own hands. The reputation and the economy of the country is in ruins. The number of competent people has declined in the ruling party. Decisions are being taken without consultations and inside a family,” Babacan said in a recent interview.

He also claimed that AKP officials were competing against each other for personal financial gain.

Babacan, a founding member of the AKP, was highly respected among foreign investors during his time running the economy. He resigned from the party last year over “deep differences” to set up his DEVA grouping on March 9 with a diverse team of former AKP officials and liberal figures.

Berk Esen, a political analyst from Ankara’s Bilkent University, believes Babacan’s recent statements have angered Erdogan.

“As a technocrat, Babacan gains respect from secular circles as well as the international community, which Erdogan clearly lacks. Despite being in office for 13 years, Babacan has not been tainted by corruption allegations and is known as the chief architect of Turkey’s rapid economic growth during the AKP’s first two terms,” he told Arab News.

“The legislation that the AKP-MHP coalition is working on may prevent deputy transfer only in case early elections are scheduled for the fall. Otherwise, the newly established parties will most likely build their organizations across the country and become viable for elections by summer, if not the spring of 2021.”

If Davutoglu and Babacan were successful in capturing disillusioned voters, they could prevent the ruling coalition getting the 51 percent of votes needed to secure a parliamentary majority.