European Council President Donald Tusk on October 7 weighed into the dispute over Turkey’s drilling in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of European Union member state Cyprus. He said the “illegal” oil and gas exploration activity would damage ties between the European Union and Turkey.
“Turkey’s continued illegal drilling activities only undermine good neighbourly relations between the EU and Turkey,” Tusk said in remarks posted on Twitter. “The EU stands united behind Cyprus.”
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said the Turkish drillship Yavuz will begin drilling for oil and gas southwest of Cyprus on October 7 or 8,
Turkey’s longstanding application to become an EU member has essentially remained frozen for the past two years or more because of a series of rows between Ankara and Brussels over issues including human rights and lack of progress in building a fully functioning democracy in Turkey. The dispute over the drilling looks likely to set back Ankara’s EU aspirations even further.
When news broke prior to last weekend that the Yavuz vessel was being deployed to an area already licensed for exploration by Nicosia to energy companies, the Cypriot presidency put out a strongly-worded statement, accusing Ankara of “bullying tactics of an era long gone”.
It added: “This new provocation is exemplary of Turkey’s defiance of the European Union’s, and the international community’s, repeated calls to cease its illegal activities. It is yet another proof of the utterly provocative and aggressive behaviour of Ankara, which has chosen to speedily and irreversibly depart from international legality, thus putting security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean at risk.”
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