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Extending Turkish drilling activity off Cyprus fuels tension

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Although Turkey has withdrawn its survey ship from Greek waters, extending its drilling activity off Cyprus will only escalate a crisis in the East Med, European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said.

“The recent withdrawal of the research vessel Oruç Reis is an important step paving the way for a meaningful dialogue between Greece and Turkey,” said Stano.

But said Turkey extending a Navtex for the Yavuz drillship off Cyprus “will fuel further tensions and insecurity in the Eastern Mediterranean”.

Stano added: “The recent withdrawal of the research vessel Oruç Reis is an important step paving the way for a meaningful dialogue between Greece and Turkey”.

“The EU also calls for similar decisions as concerns Cyprus”.

He said extending Yavuz’s gas drilling came at a time when there is an “opportunity to pursue immediate de-escalation, and resume dialogue and negotiations, which is the only path towards lasting solutions”.

President Nicos Anastasiades said Turkey’s illegal move came at a time when the EU was trying to reduce tensions.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also voiced concerned over Turkey’s move to extend the ship’s operation.

“Turkey has a choice – it can engage with Europe constructively … or it can choose to continue sort of these unilateral actions and face consequences,” he said in an interview with the Economist.

“All of us hope that the choice, the path is one of a constructive engagement”.

Nicosia will push EU leaders to consider sanctions against Turkey at a summit on September 24-25.