Turkey Rejects Greece, EU Statements Calling Drilling off Cyprus ‘Illegitimate’

Turkey on Wednesday rejected official statements from Greece and the European Union that Turkish drilling for gas and oil off Cyprus was illegitimate, adding that the EU could not be an impartial mediator on the Cyprus problem, Reuters reports.

The Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement that Turkey’s Fatih ship had started drilling activities to the west of the Mediterranean island in early May and its Yavuz ship had recently arrived to the east of Cyprus for drilling activities.

Greece’s new Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying, “We condemn the illegal drilling attempted by Turkey within the territorial waters of the Republic of Cyprus.

This illegal act defies International Law, the Law of the Sea, but is also condemned by the international community, and is a further escalation that undermines stability and security in the Eastern Mediterranean region.”

Meanwhile, the US State Department expressed, for the second time, its deep concern over the illegal activities that Turkey is attempting to carry out within the Cypriot exclusive economic zone.

“We call on the Turkish authorities to stop these operations, and we encourage all parties to act with restraint and refrain from actions that increase tensions in the region,” said Morgan Ortagus spokesman for the US Department of State.

Furthermore, the State Department spokesperson characterized the Yavuz mission as a “provocative step” that raises tensions in the region.