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Greece condemns Turkey's decision to conduct drilling in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone

Christian Fernsby |
Greece condemned on Saturday Turkey's decision to proceed to drilling for oil and gas in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

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"We call on Turkey to immediately stop its illegal activities, to respect the inalienable rights of the sovereign Republic of Cyprus that it exercises for the benefit of all the Cypriot people and to avoid further actions that undermine stability in the region as well as the resumption of talks for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem," said an e-mailed press statement issued from the Greek Foreign Ministry.

Athens is in constant communication and coordination with the Republic of Cyprus and European Union (EU) partners regarding the next steps, said the statement.

Ankara announced lately its intention to conduct exploratory drilling operations in the area in the coming months.

Federica Mogherini, high representative of the the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, issued a statement on Saturday, expressing "grave concern over Turkey's announced intention to carry out drilling activities within the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus."

In March 2018, Mogherini's statement read, the European Council strongly condemned Turkey's continued illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

"In this context, we urgently call on Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone and refrain from any such illegal action to which the European Union will respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus," it noted.

Turkey rejected Mogherini's statement later on Saturday, saying "Turkey's hydrocarbon related activities in the Eastern Mediterranean region are based on its legitimate rights stemming from international law."

"Having the longest coastal line in the region, we will protect our own rights and interests within our continental shelf, as well as those of the Turkish Cypriots around the Cyprus Island," said the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

It blamed the Greek Cypriot Administration for not having abstained from "irresponsibly jeopardizing the security and stability" of the region, "by disregarding the inalienable rights of the Turkish Cypriots, who are co-owners of the Cyprus Island, on the natural resources, refusing every proposal of cooperation and insisting on its unilateral activities in the region despite all our warnings."

Turkey asked all other actors outside the region to "acknowledge the fact that Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus cannot be excluded from the energy equation in the Eastern Mediterranean and they should stop providing unconditional support to the Greek Cypriot Administration."

Earlier on Saturday, Cyprus strongly deplored moves by Turkey to start natural gas drilling within the Cypriot EEZ, saying it is bound to raise tensions as UN efforts are under way to resume peace negotiations.

Cyprus was split along ethnic lines in 1974, when Turkey intervened militarily following a coup by Athens-backed Greek Cypriots.

Numerous reunification talks between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots have failed.

Turkey does not recognize Cyprus as a state.

And the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey.

UN-led negotiations since 1976 have failed to produce a solution to the problem.

The UN is currently engaged in consultations with the parties involved to obtain their consent for the resumption of negotiations.

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