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US urges Turkey to halt drilling off Cyprus

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The US State Department is “deeply concerned” over Turkey’s drilling operations in the waters off Cyprus and wants Ankara to stop them.

“The United States remains deeply concerned by reports of Turkey’s drilling operations in the waters off Cyprus, including plans to dispatch the Yavuz south of Limassol,” a State Department spokesperson said.

“This provocative step raises tensions in the region.  We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations,” he added.

He said US policy on Cyprus’s EEZ is “longstanding and has not changed: The United States recognizes the right of the Republic of Cyprus to develop the resources in its exclusive economic zone.”

“Only the Republic of Cyprus can assert maritime claims from the territory of Cyprus.”

“We encourage all parties to act with restraint and refrain from actions that increase tensions in the region.

All states to resolve their maritime disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law.”

Washington argues that “energy resource development in the Eastern Mediterranean should foster cooperation, increase dialogue between the two communities and among regional neighbours.”

Turkey announced its intention to start drilling off Cyprus last May with the Turkish drillship “Fatih”, which remains anchored 36 nautical miles west of Akamas peninsula.

A second Turkish drillship, “Yavuz”, arrived off the island’s north-eastern coast on 8 July 2019, it departed in September and is now back anchored off Limassol.

Brussels has agreed to impose targeted sanctions on Turkey for illegal drilling in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus.

Last Monday, it was decided to expedite the sanctions list on Turkey’s illegal drilling.

Egypt, France, and Greece strongly condemned continued Turkish actions in Cyprus’ EEZ in a joint communique issued by the four countries on January 8 in Cairo.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Cyprus slammed Turkey of being a “pirate state” for seeking to drill in exploration block 8, which has been licensed to energy companies ENI of Italy and France’s Total. (source CNA)