Turkey’s fourth drilling vessel en route to east Med, says foreign minister

Turkey has dispatched its fourth drilling vessel to the eastern Mediterranean, where an ongoing dispute over natural resources is fuelling tensions between Turkey and Greek Cyprus. 

The Oruç Reis will join the Fatih, Yavuz and Barbaros in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoglu wrote on Twitter on Monday. 

The move follows a decision by the European Union Foreign Affairs Council last month to slap sanctions on Turkey for what it called illegal drilling around the island of Cyprus, including a freeze to 146 million euros of pre-accession assistance for Turkey for next year.  

Nicosia and Athens disagree with Ankara’s claims of drilling rights in the region. 

Turkey, the only nation to recognise Northern Cyprus, maintains that attempts by Cyprus to conduct gas exploration are a violation of the rights of the Turkish part of the divided island.

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