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Turkey Resumes Gas Drilling in Mediterranean Off Cyprus’ Southern Coast

The Turkish ultra-deepwater drillship Yavuz has begun the third cycle of gas exploration drilling in the Mediterranean off the Cypriot southern coast amid overlapping claims with Cyprus on maritime economic zones, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

“Turkish drilling ship Yavuz proceeded to licence area ‘G’ in the south of the Island last Friday to conduct its third drilling operation in line with the licenses granted to the Turkish Petroleum by the Government of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 2011. In this license area, as the co-owners of the Island, Turkish Cypriots have rights as much as the Greek Cypriots. Should oil and natural gas be found in this area, both parties will share the revenues together”, Hami Aksoy said in a statement.

According to Aksoy, the European Union is pursuing a policy of double standards in ignoring the right of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to natural resources in the Mediterranean under the pretext of union solidarity.

“No one should doubt that Turkey will continue to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriots also in the south of the Island, until their rights on hydrocarbon resources of the Island are guaranteed and a cooperation mechanism is established within the framework of the proposal of 13 July 2019”, the statement read.

A cooperation proposal put forward by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, back then envisaged establishing a cooperation mechanism between the island’s Turkish and Greek communities in the “exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon resources” with the subsequent sharing of revenues.

Cyprus has been split between Greek and Turkish communities since 1974. Turkey’s drilling operations in what Cyprus claims to be its exclusive economic zones in the Mediterranean have long been a conflicted item between Ankara and Nicosia as well as in a larger European context.

The area in question is believed to be rich in hydrocarbon reserves. Both Ankara, which backs the independence movement of the Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island, and the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus, believe that exploration for the natural resources in this area is their inherent right.