Israel backs Cyprus as Turkey vows to continue drilling in its waters

Oil tanker Morning Glory

The discovery of huge gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has sparked a dispute between European Union member Cyprus and Turkey, which last month sent a second ship, the Yavuz, to search for oil and gas in the region.

The ministry noted that the Fatih drilling ship had begun its activities west of the island in early May and confirmed that the Yavuz had just arrived in the offshore area to the east and will conduct exploration activities in the coming days.

FILE-In this Thursday, June 20, 2019 file photo, a Turkish police officer patrols the dock, backdropped by the drilling ship "Yavuz" that was dispatched to the Mediterranean, at the port of Dilovasi, outside Istanbul.

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday urged Turkish authorities to halt energy drilling operations off the Cypriot coast in the Mediterranean, a day after Cyprus protested a Turkish ship dropping anchor there.

Turkey on Wednesday vowed to keep on with drilling activities off Cyprus despite tensions with the European Union and Greece, which has called on Ankara to cease its "illegal" action. Our drilling vessel Yavuz was sent to the south off the Karpas Peninsula in order to carry out works under a license provided to the government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.


Turkey on Wednesday rejected European Union condemnation of its drilling and said the bloc can not be considered an impartial mediator for the divided island.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup.

Several peacemaking efforts have failed and the discovery of offshore resources in the eastern Mediterranean in the 2000s has complicated the negotiations.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said any measures were not an end in themselves, but aimed at sending specific messages to Turkey.

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