Turkish ship to begin drilling south of Cyprus by Tuesday: energy minister

The Turkish drillship Yavuz is escorted by Turkish Navy frigate Gemlik (F-492) in the eastern Mediterranean Sea off Cyprus in this August 6, 2019 photo. (Reuters)
Updated 07 October 2019

Turkish ship to begin drilling south of Cyprus by Tuesday: energy minister

  • Cyprus has accused Turkey of a ‘severe escalation’ of violations of its sovereign rights
  • Turkey and Greece are allies in NATO but have long been at loggerheads over Cyprus

ISTANBUL: The Turkish drillship Yavuz will begin drilling for oil and gas southwest of Cyprus on Monday or Tuesday, Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said, in a move which has intensified tensions between the two countries.
Ankara said on Thursday it had sent the ship to the area where Greek Cypriot authorities have already awarded hydrocarbon exploration rights to Italian and French companies.
Cyprus has accused Turkey of a “severe escalation” of violations of its sovereign rights.
“All preparations have been completed, and it (Yavuz) will start its first drilling in the area either today or tomorrow,” Donmez told an energy conference on Monday.
Turkey has already drilled wells in waters to the east and west of the island, triggering strong protests from Nicosia and the European Union in recent months, including EU sanctions.
Turkey and Greece are allies in NATO but have long been at loggerheads over Cyprus, which has been ethnically split between Greek and Turkish Cypriots since 1974.
The internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government represents Cyprus in the European Union, while a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north is only recognized by Ankara.
The latest development is the first time the two sides have targeted the same area. The United States has warned Turkey not to engage in “illegal” drilling activity in the area.
On Monday, Yavuz was located about 50 nautical miles (90 km) southwest of Cyprus, Refinitiv Eikon shipping data showed.


Libya Speaker urges action on Turkish intervention

Updated 3 min 4 sec ago

Libya Speaker urges action on Turkish intervention

CAIRO: Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, held talks on Monday with Egyptian officials and the US envoy on dealing with the Turkish intervention in Libya.


On the second day of his visit to Cairo, Saleh met with US envoy to Libya Richard Norland and agreed to meet with Western delegations in addition to the Egyptian leadership.


Saleh held talks with Norland on maintaining the cease-fire and reopening talks to end the crisis in the country.


He said that the parliament is adhering to the outcomes of the Berlin international conference and the Cairo initiative, and called for the withdrawal of reconciliation government militias from around the Sirte and Jufra oil crescent areas.


The Libyan parliament website said that Saleh and the US ambassador discussed developments in Libya and sought ways to reach a solution in the country according to the Cairo declaration and the outcome of the Berlin summit.


“The meeting discussed the steps taken to move forward with work on the initiative of Aguila Saleh, which culminated in the Cairo declaration according to the outcomes of the Berlin conference,” media adviser to the Speaker, Hamid Al-Safi, said, according to the Libyan News Agency in Benghazi. 


Al-Safi said the meeting reached an agreement to continue the cease-fire. 


The Libyan News Agency said that Norland explained his country’s view on the necessity of stopping the fighting in Libya and that there is no military solution to the crisis. 


Germany, France and Italy intend to push for European sanctions against Turkey, which violated the arms embargo on Libya.


EU sources said that the three countries have prepared a list of companies and individuals who harness ships, aircraft or other logistical services to transport weapons.

The list includes three companies from Turkey and Kazakhstan, as well as two Libyans.


Saleh arrived in Cairo on Sunday to resume a series of international and regional meetings as part of efforts aimed to resolve the Libyan crisis. He will also meet with Egyptian officials as well as the American ambassador in Cairo for talks on restructuring the Presidency Council.


US President Donald Trump’s administration is seeking a demilitarized solution in Sirte and Jufra, and to reopen the country’s oil sector with full transparency between the Libyan parties.


Parliamentary media adviser Fathi Al-Marimi said that Saleh also discussed the removal of armed forces in Sirte and Jufra with the US envoy.


In statements carried by Al-Arabiya Al-Hadath satellite channel, he added that Saleh highlighted the need for a fair distribution of wealth, while the US enjoy stressed the need for a peaceful solution in Libya.


Saleh visited Cairo in the beginning of June, where he met President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan Army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, to announce a political initiative to solve the Libyan crisis, called the Cairo declaration.