EU backing sought over Turkish drilling

EU backing sought over Turkish drilling

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades are expected to seek the support of European Union leaders, especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, at Thursday's informal EU summit in Romania over Turkey’s plans to drill for hydrocarbons in the East Mediterranean island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Concerns in Athens and Nicosia were further fueled on Wednesday by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said that, after the Fatih drillship’s arrival off the western coast of Cyprus another one would be sent to the region to “begin drilling.”

Ankara claims that it is protecting the interests of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots, and that its moves are dictated by international law. Seismic research in the area has been completed and Turkey will start drilling work soon, Cavusoglu warned.

The situation, as well as the further operational coordination between Greek and Cypriot armed forces, was discussed on Wednesday by Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis, his Cypriot counterpart Savvas Angelides and Anastasiades.

Angelides insisted that Cyprus will not be drawn into a crisis situation, stressing that the main aim is to persuade the EU to take collective action to deal with the “invasion” of Turkish drillships in Cypriot waters.

Meanwhile, Russian Ambassador to Athens Andrey Maslov reiterated Moscow’s concern about the escalation of tension in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“We deem that any economic activity must comply with international law,” he said.

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