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Turkey threats to be dealt with diplomatically

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Cyprus will deal with Turkish threats in the best possible diplomatic way with support from the EU, said President Nicos Anastasiades over rising East Med tensions.

Anastasiades commented to reporters after being asked why Brussels had delayed in reacting to Turkey’s provocations against Cyprus.

He said Brussels was engaged on the issue and remained concerned.

“As you know, a briefing report based on the information service, which records what unfortunately has taken place or is taking place, will be discussed next week.”

“Certainly, the threats on the part of Turkey are taken into consideration and will be dealt with in the best possible diplomatic way,” said Anastasiades.

The EU report will include Turkey’s involvement in the East Med energy search and its plans to re-open fenced-off Varosha.

On Monday, Turkey’s deputy president said that his country is “not afraid of anyone” and won’t be deterred from continuing drilling for oil and gas in disputed waters that have been a source of tension between Ankara and Nicosia.

“We are not afraid of anyone. Those who seek an adventure in the eastern Mediterranean will get an answer,” Deputy President Fuat Oktay said during a ceremony to mark the 38th anniversary of the Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence.

Oktay’s remarks come after the Cypriot government said that ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Petroleum would resume in a few weeks drilling in an area southwest of Cyprus where they’re licensed to prospect for oil and gas.

A consortium of energy companies Total of France and Italian Eni will also resume drilling off Cyprus’ southern coast in the first half of next year.

Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus as a nation and contests waters where the Cypriot government claims exclusive economic rights.

The Cypriot government insists Turkey’s actions contravene international law.

Last week, the French frigate Auvergne docked in Cyprus to show that “respect of international law and especially freedom of navigation matters” to France, according to the ship’s captain.

Captain Paul Merveilleux de Vignaux said the frigate’s deployment in the region “underlines how important France considers this part of the Mediterranean sea,” as well as the country’s “willingness to contribute to the stabilization of this strategic area.”

France is also keen to make its presence felt to send signals to Turkey not to interfere with offshore drilling.

In February 2018, Turkish warships prevented a drillship leased by Eni from conducting exploratory drilling in waters southeast of Cyprus.