Defence Minister in Rome to discuss Turkey’s illegal drills

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Cyprus Defence Minister Savvas Angelides is in Rome to hold talks with Italian counterpart Lorenzo Guerini on developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region including Turkey’s illegal activities within the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

A statement said, “the two ministers will also discuss ways of further strengthening and enhancing the two countries` relations, placing an emphasis on security and defence issues as well as on the development of PESCO programmes.”

Last May, Turkey announced its intention to start drilling off Cyprus and sent Turkish drillship “Fatih”, which remains anchored 36 nautical miles west of the Akamas peninsula, inside EEZ and continental shelf of Cyprus.

A second Turkish drillship, “Yavuz”, arrived off the island’s north-eastern coast on 8 July 2019.

In response, Brussels approved targeted sanctions against Turkey for continued illegal drilling in the EEZ of Cyprus.

Italy’s energy giant Eni is one of the main players in the exploration and exploitation of Cyprus’ untapped natural gas riches.

Italy is also expected to join Cyprus, Greece and Israel in building the ambitious 1,900 km EastMed gas pipeline which Turkey is opposed to.

After a summit in Cairo last week, Egypt, France, Cyprus and Greece strongly condemned continued Turkish actions in the island’s EEZ and its territorial waters.

In a joint communique, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of these countries called “upon Turkey to immediately cease all illegal exploration activities.”