EU, Cyprus mull ‘targeted measures’ over Turkish drilling in southwest Cyprus

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades discussed the possibility of imposing targeted measures against Turkey on Friday, after Ankara announced it would be sending a drill ship to an area off Cyprus’s southern coast for which French Total and Italian Eni inked an agreement last month with the Cyprus government. 

Mogherini and Anastasiades said they “deplored” Turkey’s further drilling activities 45 nautical miles off south Cyprus, according to a press release of the European Commission.

“Turkey needs to refrain from such actions and respect the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus to explore and exploit its natural resources in accordance with international law within its Exclusive Economic Zone,” the Commission said.

The two officials discussed the possibility of “targeted measures” in light of Turkey’s continued activities, while Mogherini decided that the issue will be on the agenda of the next Foreign Affairs Council on Oct. 14, Greek daily Kathimerini said

Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez announced on Thursday that the country’s drill ship Yavuz was en route to the Güzelyurt-1 well to continue oil and gas exploration activities. 

The minister did not disclose the location of the well, but a separate shipping advisory Turkey released indicated that the ship would be operating about 90 kilometres (56 miles) southwest of the port of Limassol, which fall within an oil and gas exploration block Cyprus has awarded to Eni and Total. The advisory said drilling operations would take place between Oct. 19 and Jan. 20th.

Turkish diplomat Çağatay Erciyes, director general for Bilateral Political and Maritime-Aviation-Border Affairs, said on Friday on Twitter that the drilling area Yavuz would operate lied within the Turkish continental shelf registered with the UN and in the permit licenses that the Turkish government had granted to Turkish Petroleum in 2012.

Erciyes also said that Turkey did not recognise Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) despite Nicosia’s efforts to declare the area as European Union waters.

Turkey, the only nation to recognise the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, maintains that attempts by the internationally recognised government of Cyprus to conduct gas exploration are a violation of the rights of the Turkish Cypriot north of the divided island.