The Mediterranean Sea- CC via Wikimedia
CAIRO - 4 October 2019: The government of the Republic of Cyprus has strongly condemned Turkey’s new attempt to illegally conduct drilling operations in the south-west of the island, within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf, Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported.
The government said it is calling once more on Turkey to immediately cease all its illegal activities and withdraw all its drilling and seismic vessels and stressing that illegality no matter how often repeated; it remains against the law.
The discovery of gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has prompted claims by the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government and Ankara, which backs a breakaway Turkish Cypriot administration in the north of the island.
European Union member Cyprus has been pressing to develop offshore gas deposits and has signed deals with energy giants Eni, Total and ExxonMobil that have seen them carry out exploratory drilling.
Ankara claims that such exploration deprives the Turkish Cypriot minority of benefiting from the natural resources that surround the island.
In February 2018 a drillship for Italy's Eni abandoned an attempt to search for gas off Cyprus after it was blocked by Turkish warships.
Turkey has had thousands of troops stationed in the northern third of the island since invading in 1974 in response to a Greek military junta-sponsored coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece.
The northern part of the island was declared the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is only recognized by Ankara. UN-sponsored efforts to reunify the island have failed.
Additional reporting by MENA