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Turkey raises stakes in East Med drilling move

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In a tension-raising move, Turkey will resume gas exploration in the Mediterranean sea somewhere off Cyprus on August 9.

The Turkish Energy Ministry confirmed the development, and the gas exploration will be carried out by the new Turkish drill ship Adbulhamid Han.

The ministry, in a statement, said: “Turkish drilling ship Adbulhamid Han will start a mission in the Mediterranean on August 9, departing from Mersin port.”

The Cyprus government closely monitors the situation after Ankara’s new announcements about “illegal drilling” in the Eastern Mediterranean, said Energy Minister Natasa Pilides.

She told CyBC radio Wednesday: “There are indications of the point at which the Turkish drilling rig will be active.”

Pilides said every action would be taken so Ankara’s illegal move would be condemned.

Notably, Turkey and Greece have been at loggerheads over several issues, including hydrocarbon resources in the Mediterranean.

Ankara has also encroached into Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, where energy exploration is licensed to international companies.

However, it is still not clear where the drilling will take place.

Last week, a senior Turkish official said the gas explorations would be carried out near Cyprus.

In 2020, the European Union was about to sanction Turkey’s attempts at gas exploration into contested east Mediterranean waters.

Tensions have increased between NATO members Greece and Turkey over the status of the Aegean islands and airspace violations.

Ankara accused Athens of secretly setting up military bases on the islands.

In March, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cut diplomatic ties with the Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for opposing the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey during a visit to the United States.

The two nations are also at odds over Cyprus, where Ankara challenges the Republic’s right to search for energy resources.