Egypt warns Turkey against drilling in E. Mediterranean

Egypt on Saturday warned Turkey against drilling for natural gas off Cyprus, citing the impact of Turkey’s planned move on the security and stability in East Mediterranean Sea, the Egypt Independent online newspaper reported.

“Any actions by states in the region need to abide by the rules of international law and its provisions,” the newspaper quoted the Egyptian foreign ministry as saying.

Turkey has announced its intention to explore the East Mediterranean for oil and gas while stating it considers the 2013 Egyptian-Cypriot agreement on utilisation of natural sources in East Mediterranean’s economic zone to be invalid, the newspaper said.

Ankara is preparing to send its “Fatih” vessel to the area to conduct drilling for oil and gas amid an ongoing dispute with Greece and Cyprus over the island's exclusive economic zone and drilling hydrocarbons in the gas- rich Eastern Mediterranean.

The EU on Saturday also urged Turkey to reconsider plans to start exploratory drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus,  a move has been condemned as illegal by the European Union. 

The Egypt Independent quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu as saying that “Turkish Cypriots have undeniable rights on the island of Cyprus,” and “no foreign entity, company or vessel can carry out any illegal scientific research or exploration of oil and gas in the continental shelf of Turkey and its maritime areas.”

Turkey, the only country to recognise the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, doesn’t have diplomatic relations with the internationally recognised government of Greek Cyprus and claims that part of the Cyprus offshore area remains under the jurisdiction of Turkish Cypriots or Turkey.