U.S. urges Turkey to stop drilling near Cyprus

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday called on Turkey to cease all drilling activities near Cyprus and remove its drillship Yavuz from Cyprus’ territorial waters, the Financial Mirror reported, citing Cyprus News Agency. 

Turkey’s Foreign Minister announced on Monday that Turkey had dispatched its fourth vessel to the eastern Mediterranean to join the Fatih and Yavuz drilling ships and Barbaros surveying vessel already anchored off Cyprus. 

Only the Republic of Cyprus, acting through its government, can consent to activities such as drilling within its territorial sea, a U.S. State Department spokesman told Cyprus News Agency. 

The spokesman said Washington was particularly concerned about the activities of the Yavuz drillship in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

 “We urge Turkish authorities to cease unlawful activities immediately and to remove the Yavuz from the Republic of Cyprus’ territorial sea,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Turkey has since Friday issued a series of navigational communications reserving areas off Cyprus, near where the Yavuz is drilling, for naval exercises with live fire, Greek daily Kathimerini reported

Turkey, the only nation to recognise the breakaway northern Turkish Cypriot state, maintains that attempts by Cyprus to conduct gas exploration are a violation of the rights of the Turkish part of the divided island. Turkey also has territorial claims that overlap with Cyprus’ EEZ. 

“We continue to support development of an equitable solution for sharing the benefits of Cyprus’ hydrocarbon resources between the two communities,” the U.S. official said to Cyprus News Agency.