Turkey to send second drilling vessel to east Mediterranean

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Ankara would send a second drillship to the eastern Mediterranean to look for oil and gas, the Hürriyet newspaper said on Tuesday.

The move is part of a dispute with Cyprus, which has contracted international oil companies to explore for potentially rich sources of gas in its waters. Turkey says the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of the island should have a share in any proceeds, but the internationally recognised Cypriot government says any wealth will be divided once Cyprus is reunited.

"Turkish Cypriots also have rights. We are acting in accordance with international law," Çavuşoğlu told a news conference on Tuesday.

Seismic research in the area has been completed and Turkey will start drilling work soon, he said.

Cypriot authorities on Tuesday sent a message to the crew of the first exploration vessel that Turkey sent to the area informing them that warrants had been issued for their arrest.

“We do not take such threats seriously,” Çavuşoğlu said in response.

Meanwhile, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras are preparing to brief European Union leaders on Thursday at the informal European Council in Romania about Turkey’s illegal drilling activities within Cyrus' exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Kathimerini reported.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, during a parliamentary meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Tuesday, said, "May God give understanding to those who don't understand the steps being taken to seize our rights in Cyprus, the East  Mediterranean and the Aegean.'' 

Anastasiades responded to Erdoğan, criticising him for his religious references and saying,"International law cannot be based on what is written in the Quran," Euronews Turkish reported on Wednesday.