Turkey will continue drilling off Cyprus

Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that the country would continue drilling for gas in waters off Cyprus if the Greek Cypriot government did not accept a cooperation proposal put forward by Turkish Cypriots, Cavusoglu said a proposal by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci that both parties on the island cooperate in exploration and exploitation of gas could contribute to stability and peace in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey has sent two ships to drill off the island. Cyprus issued arrest warrants for the crew of one of the ships, and the European Union is discussing curbing contacts and funds for Turkey in response.

The dispute stems from overlapping claims to regional waters by Turkey and Cyprus, linked to Turkey’s rejection of agreements Cyprus has reached with other Mediterranean states on maritime economic zones.

Turkey’s Fatih ship started drilling off western Cyprus in May. A second drilling ship, Yavuz, arrived off the northeastern coast last week.

A draft decision discussed by EU diplomats said that in light of Turkey’s “continued and new illegal drilling activities” the bloc should reduce funding linked to Ankara’s long-stalled talks for accession to the union.