The Trump administration has called on Turkey to stop oil and gas drilling off the coast of Cyprus, a US Department of State spokesperson told Sputnik.
“The United States is aware that Turkey has issued a NAVTEX (Navigational telex) for research in disputed waters in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the spokesperson said on Tuesday.
In his statement, the spokesperson added that the US urged Turkish authorities to halt any plans for operations and to avoid steps that raise tensions in the region.
On Tuesday, as part of the country’s hydrocarbon exploration activities, Turkey launched new seismic research activity with the Turkish Oruc Reis vessel in the Eastern Mediterranean via NAVTEX.
NAVTEX is the acronym for navigational telex (navigational text messages). It is a device used on board vessels to provide short range Maritime Safety Information in coastal waters.
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.