Sunday

15th Sep 2019

Turkey drills for gas in Cyprus' waters, prompting EU outcry

  • Turkey split Cyprus in two following its invasion in 1974 (Photo: michael kirian)

The EU and US have urged Turkey to stop drilling for gas in Cyprus' maritime zone - but Ankara has told its allies it would do so anyway.

Brussels and Washington spoke out over the weekend after a Turkish ship called Fatih, meaning "Conqueror", began drilling a 5,500-metre well in the Mediterranean Sea on Friday (3 May) in a zone claimed both by Cyprus and by the Turkey-backed, breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We urgently call on Turkey to ... refrain from any such illegal action to which the European Union will respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus," the EU foreign service said on Saturday.

"This step is highly provocative and risks raising tensions in the region. We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations," the US state department said the following day.

Cyprus, Greece, as well as Egypt issued similar statements.

"This provocative action by Turkey constitutes a flagrant violation of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus," its foreign ministry said.

But the Turkish government said it would go ahead despite the complaints.

"We will protect our own rights and interests within our continental shelf, as well as those of the Turkish Cypriots," the Turkish foreign ministry said in reaction to the EU on Saturday.

"Turkey is determined to always protect the rights of the people of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus ... and not to allow the fait accompli," Turkish defence minister Hulusi Akar told Anadolu, a Turkish state news agency, on Sunday.

The maritime dispute comes amid Turkey's wider drift away from the EU and Nato toward authoritarianism and Russia.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has scorned EU appeals to stop jailing and torturing his political opponents.

He is also building a Russian gas pipeline that will undermine EU energy security and buying a Russian air-defence system despite US warnings that that could compromise its Nato ties.

Turkey would buy the Russian 'S-400' system even if the US imposed sanctions in return, Turkish vice president Fuat Oktay told Kanal 7, a Turkish state broadcaster, on Sunday.

"We've completed the S-400 deal. It's a done deal," Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also said on Friday while visiting Hungary.

The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) broke away from Cyprus in 1974 after Turkey invaded the island in response to a Greek-sponsored coup.

Turkey continues to keep thousands of troops there and is the only country that recognises TRNC sovereignty.

Cyprus has also tried to drill exploratory wells in what it and the rest of the world, except Turkey, say is its own maritime zone, but Turkish warships scared off its vessels the last time it tried to do so in February last year.

The state owned Turkish Petroleum firm said on Friday it had bought a second drill-ship, called the Yavuz, that is to work alongside the Fatih, boding ill for the dispute.

Turkey and Germany defend Russia ties

Turkey and Germany have defended their arms and energy deals with Russia following strident criticism by the US at a Nato event in Washington.

News in Brief

  1. Nearly 100 refugees evacuated from Libya to Italy
  2. Juncker to meet Johnson on Monday
  3. First Hungary 'Article 7' hearing set for Monday
  4. Vestager picks Danish EU ambassador as cabinet head
  5. Commissioner hearings will start 30 September
  6. Italy says EU countries agree to take in rescued migrants
  7. Germany to organise Libya conference on arms embargo
  8. European Parliament to support another Brexit delay

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Brexit and new commission in focus This WEEK
  2. As recession looms Europe needs more spending
  3. How should the EU handle Russia now?
  4. EU defence bravado criticised by auditors
  5. Central European leaders demand EU Balkan accession
  6. Luxembourg's cannabis legalisation is EU opportunity
  7. The Catalan National Day has been a success. Why?
  8. Why I'm voting against the von der Leyen commission

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us