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Turkey to Continue Drilling Operations Near Cyprus Despite EU Criticism - Foreign Ministry

© AFP 2023 / MAHMUD TURKIAOil tanker Morning Glory
Oil tanker Morning Glory - Sputnik International
ANKARA (Sputnik) - Turkey will continue carrying out hydrocarbons exploration in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone despite the European Union's negative reaction, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

"In early May, our vessel Fatih started drilling to the west off the island of Cyprus on a continental shelf, with our country informing the United Nations about it, under licenses provided to our governments. Our drilling vessel Yavuz was sent to the south off the Karpas Peninsula in order to carry out works under a license provided to the government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus ... Turkey maintains its rights on the continental shelf in Eastern Mediterranean and will continue protecting the rights of Cyprus' Turkish community for its shelf", the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

It also stressed that Cyprus' membership in the European Union did not mean that the island's Greek community could "usurp the legal rights and interests of Turkish Cypriots".

​"We reject claims of the Greek Foreign Ministry and EU authorities that consider these activities of our country illegal. These statements do not mention Turkish Cypriots who are the co-founders of the Republic of Cyprus ... The EU has engaged in this unfairness as it fails to assume the role of a neutral mediator in talks on settling the Cyprus problem", the statement read.

Two Turkish drillships, Yavuz and Fatih, are currently anchored off the coast of Cyprus in order to drill for oil and gas. Cyprus and Greece see it as a provocation, and the European Union has called on Turkey to end drilling in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone. Ankara, meanwhile, believes it has a right to drill for regional natural resources.

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