European Council President Donald Tusk says the European Union “stands united” behind Cyprus as tensions between the Mediterranean island nation and Turkey escalate over offshore gas drilling.
Speaking Thursday after an informal EU summit in Romania, Tusk said the EU “expects Turkey to respect the sovereign rights” of its member nation and the bloc will closely monitor the situation.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades told other EU leaders that Turkey is launching a bid to drill for gas in waters where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights.
Cypriot authorities say the Turkish drillship Fatih is anchored about 68 kilometers (42 miles) off the southwestern Cypriot resort town of Paphos, escorted by support ships and a Turkish navy frigate, but hasn’t started drilling yet.
Anastasiades described Ankara’s actions as tantamount to a new invasion. Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 in response to an attempted coup by supporters of uniting the island with Greece. [AP]