Turkish steps up drilling activities around Cyprus

Fuat Oktay says Turkey will “never submit” to sanctions imposed by the European Union. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 July 2019

Turkish steps up drilling activities around Cyprus

  • The EU says Turkey is drilling in waters exclusive to EU member Cyprus and is therefore a breach of international law

NICOSIA: Turkey’s vice president says his country is stepping up a search for hydrocarbons off ethnically divided Cyprus with the dispatching of a survey vessel to join two drillships and another research craft operating in waters around the east Mediterranean island nation.
Fuat Oktay says Turkey will “never submit” to sanctions imposed by the European Union over its drilling and won’t hesitate to take additional steps in defense of its rights and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the area’s energy reserves.
The EU says Turkey is drilling in waters exclusive to EU member Cyprus and is therefore a breach of international law.
Oktay was speaking at celebrations marking the 45th anniversary of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus that followed a coup mounted by supporters of union with Greece.


Turkey sends armed drone to northern Cyprus amid gas dispute

Updated 57 min 39 sec ago

Turkey sends armed drone to northern Cyprus amid gas dispute

  • The breakaway northern Cyprus government approved the use of the airport for unmanned aerial vehicles
  • A recent agreement between Turkey and Libya claims extensive areas of sea for Turkey in the Mediterranean

FAMAGUSTA, Cyprus: A Turkish military drone was delivered to northern Cyprus on Monday amid growing tensions over Turkey’s deal with Libya that extended its claims to the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean.
The Bayraktar TB2 drone landed in Gecitkale Airport in Famagusta around 0700 GMT, an AFP correspondent said, after the breakaway northern Cyprus government approved the use of the airport for unmanned aerial vehicles.
It followed a deal signed last month between Libya and Turkey that could prove crucial in the scramble for recently discovered gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.
The agreement claimed extensive areas of the sea for Turkey, undercutting claims by Greece and the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, which runs the southern part of the island.
Analysts say Turkey was pushing back against rival efforts to claim exploration rights in the area after Cyprus, Greece, Egypt and Israel excluded Turkey from a new “East Mediterranean Gas Forum” that also includes Jordan, Italy and the Palestinian territories.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is only recognized by Turkey, said approval for the drone was given last week “in light of the latest developments in the eastern Mediterranean region” and “to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the TRNC and Turkey.”
The TRNC’s transport minister, Tolga Atakan, said Turkish drones were partly a response to the acquisition of Israeli drones by Cyprus in October to monitor its exclusive economic zone.
Cyprus has been divided since Turkish troops occupied the northern third of the island in 1974 in response to a coup sponsored by the Greek military junta.
Turkey already has two drilling vessels in the eastern Mediterranean despite the threat of European Union sanctions.
Ankara does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member, and says the TRNC has the right to explore around the entire island.