Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez on Monday said that the country’s Yavuz ship will start drilling for hydrocarbon deposits within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone “today or tomorrow,” in what Nicosia says is a “serious escalation” by Ankara.
The area in question, Morphou-1, falls within Block 7 of Cyprus’ EEZ, where Nicosia has already signed agreements with French Total and Italian ENI for offshore hydrocarbon exploration.
Donmez’ statement comes as Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias arrived in Cyprus ahead of an October 14 meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council.
It also comes just two days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington has made it clear to Ankara that “illegal drilling is unacceptable.”
“We want to make sure that rules govern international exploration in the Mediterranean Sea’s energy resources and that no country can hold Europe hostage,” Pompeo said during a visit to Athens on Saturday.
“We have told the Turks that illegal drilling is unacceptable, and we’ll continue to take diplomatic actions to make sure that we do, as we do always, ensure that lawful activity takes place,” he added.