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Turkey to continue drilling in Eastern Mediterranean, FM says

An aerial photo shows Turkish-flagged drill ship Fatih' continue offshore drilling operations in company with Turkish battleship and a helicopter in the west of the Island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea on July 11, 2019 [Turkish National Defence Ministry / Handout - Anadolu Agency]
An aerial photo shows Turkish-flagged drill ship Fatih' continue offshore drilling operations in company with Turkish battleship and a helicopter in the west of the Island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea on 11 July 2019 [Turkish National Defence Ministry/Anadolu Agency]

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday announced that the country is determined to continue drilling activities in the East Mediterranean Sea to protect the rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots.

It is stated that the new licence areas that the Turkish Petroleum applied for regarding its exploration and drilling activities lie within Turkish continental shelf as declared to the United Nations.

In the statement, ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said Turkey will be resolutely continuing to exercise its sovereign rights over the area.

“We are fully committed to protecting both our rights and Turkish Cypriots’ rights in the Eastern Mediterranean. In this regard, our seismic exploration and drilling activities are being carried out according to the previously adopted plan,” he added.

Eastern Mediterranean: A new hotbed of tensions at the European doorstep 

The statement came after Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias accused Turkey of “illegally drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Turkey has been carrying out exploration and drilling activities within the country’s maritime borders in the Eastern Mediterranean since last year, using two drilling ships, Fatih and Yavuz.

The Greek government and the Greek Cypriot administration oppose its activity and have threatened to arrest the ships’ crews. The Greeks have enlisted EU leaders to condemn Turkey’s activities.

Ankara has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the area, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus also has rights to the resources according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In 1974, following a coup against Greece’s annexation of Cyprus, Turkey intervened as a guarantor power.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded in 1983.

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