Cyprus to begin drilling, Turkey prickly

Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias said Sunday that Cyprus would start drilling for hydrocarbons within the next few days, defying warnings from Turkey, which has challenged its authority to do so.

?We will continue to exercise our evident sovereign rights, which include exploiting natural resources, always within the parameters of international law… the exploratory drilling is expected to start within the next few days,? Christofias told a meeting of British Cypriots in London.

Meanwhile, Turkey?s Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said on Saturday that Ankara will freeze relations with the European Union if Cyprus is given the EU presidency in 2012.

?If the peace negotiations [on Cyprus] are not conclusive, and the EU gives its rotating presidency to southern Cyprus, the real crisis will be between Turkey and the EU,? Anatolian news agency quoted Atalay as saying.

An official at the European Commission declined to comment on Saturday?s statement.

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