Erdogan says Turkey to press ahead with gas search off Cyprus

The Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz at Dilovasi port in city of Kocaeli, Turkey, 20 June 2019. [Erdem Sahin/EPA/EFE]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday (22 August) hit out at EU measures to punish Ankara for drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean and vowed to press ahead with gas search in the region.

EU ministers unveiled on 15 July measures including cutting €145.8 million in pre-accession financial funds to Turkey allocated for 2020, freezing of the European Investment Bank’s activities in the country, stopping the cooperation under the EU-Turkey aviation agreement, and the cancellation of high-level EU-Turkey dialogues.

The move came after Turkey defied warnings from the European Union and the United States to stop its drilling activities off Cyprus.

“The EU which has announced so-called measures … is not harming us but itself,” Erdoğan told a televised press conference in the capital Ankara.

 

EU postpones announcement on Turkey sanctions to ‘de-escalate’ tensions

The EU accepted on Monday (15 July) to postpone few hours the announcement of the sanctions against Turkey over the drilling in waters off Cyprus, following a request by Ankara not to interfere with the third anniversary the failed coup, EU officials and diplomats told euractiv.com.

“We are continuing right now the exploration activities and will continue to do so with the same determination,” he said.

The discovery of huge gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has triggered a race to tap the region’s underwater resources and sparked a dispute between Turkey and Cyprus.

Ankara has sent two drilling ships, as well as two seismic exploration ships to the region, whose security is ensured by the Turkish naval and air forces elements, the Turkish leader said.

Cyprus is divided between the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus and a breakaway state set up after the 1974 Turkish invasion, following a coup sponsored by the military junta then ruling Greece.

Turkey says the island’s resources should be equally shared between both communities.

EU member Cyprus in July rejected as “unacceptable” a Turkish Cypriot proposal to share offshore energy resources aimed at easing tensions.

Erdoğan on Thursday said no project that excludes Turkey or northern Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean could be put into practice.

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