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EU worried over Turkey drills off Cyprus

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EU Foreign Affairs Ministers have expressed concern over Turkey`s activity in the Eastern Mediterranean and reiterated their full solidarity with Cyprus after Ankara said it will continue its illegal drills off the island.

This was the position voiced by the 27 who met on Wednesday via teleconference, according to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.

He doubted whether EU27 leaders will raise the issue on Thursday during the EU Summit as the “European Council will be fully devoted to the economic answer to the coronavirus crisis”.

“In light of the most recent actions of Turkey related to drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean we reiterated our unwavering solidarity and support with Cyprus and Greece,” said Borrell.

“And we will continue nevertheless our diplomatic engagement with Turkey, to try to steer our relationship towards a cooperative and constructive approach,” he added.

In a statement issued Monday, the Cyprus government condemned in the most unequivocal manner Turkey’s imminent drilling operation, by drillship Yavuz, within the Cypriot EEZ and continental shelf.

It said the sea area is lawfully delimited by means of the 2003 EEZ Delimitation Agreement between the Republic of Cyprus and Egypt, in accordance with the international law.

Israel concerned

Israel is gravely concerned about Turkey’s intention to drill in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), says the country’s Ambassador Sammy Revel.

Revel told CNA that “pursuant to Turkey’s recently announced intention to continue drilling inside Cyprus’ EEZ, Israel follows the situation with grave concern.”

“Israel reiterates its full solidarity with Cyprus, in exercising its rights in its maritime zones, and its opposition to any attempt to violate these rights.”

France monitoring the situation

France is closely tracking the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and its position has been made clear that Turkish drillings in Cyprus` EEZ constitute a violation of sovereignty and international law, the French Embassy told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

Turkish drillship Yavuz is to drill in an area that covers part of exploration blocks 6 and 7, which are licensed to energy majors Italy’s ENI and France’s TOTAL consortium.

“We are following closely the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, in particular after the recent arrival of Turkish drillship Yavuz in the Cypriot EEZ.

As France made clear on several occasions, these drillings constitute a violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus and of international law. As we all need to focus our energy on fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, restraint should prevail more than ever,” the French Embassy statement said.