ISTANBUL: A second Turkish drillship, which is expected to begin drilling for oil and natural gas near Cyprus this week, arrived off the Mediterranean island’s northeastern coast on Monday, Refinitiv Eikon shipping data showed.
Last month, European Union leaders warned Turkey to end its gas drilling in disputed waters around the island or face action from the bloc, after Greece and Cyprus pressed other EU states to speak out.
In a move that could further strain ties with Cyprus over exploration rights, Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez was quoted by state-owned Anadolu news agency on Saturday as saying the Yavuz would start drilling within a week.
Yavuz had been at the southern Turkish port of Mersin doing final tests and taking on supplies before departing for Cyprus on Sunday. The shipping data showed that it arrived off the coast of the Karpas peninsula overnight.
Meanwhile, Cyprus ‘strongly condemns’ what it said was an infringement of its sovereign rights by Turkey, after Ankara sent a drill ship off the island to explore for oil and gas.
“This planned second drilling ... is an escalation by Turkey of its repeated violations of Cyprus’s sovereign rights based on the UN Law of the Sea and international law, and is a most serious violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus,” Cyprus’s presidency in Nicosia said in a statement.
Ankara, which does not have diplomatic relations with Cyprus, claims that certain areas in Cyprus’s offshore maritime zone, known as an EEZ, fall under the jurisdiction of Turkey or of Turkish Cypriots, who have their own breakaway state in the north of the island which is recognized only by Turkey.
Cyprus was divided in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Several peacemaking efforts have failed and the discovery of offshore resources has complicated the negotiations.