EU to ‘closely monitor’ Turkish activities off coast of Cyprus

EU to ‘closely monitor’ Turkish activities off coast of Cyprus

The European Union will “closely monitor” Turkish drilling activities off the coast of Cyprus and “stands ready to respond appropriately,” the European Council said in the draft conclusions of a summit in Brussels. 

According to the draft conclusions, the Council agrees, vis-a-vis “Turkey's continued illegal drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean,” to “closely monitor developments.” It is also prepared to respond “in full solidarity with Cyprus,” the statement reads.

The European Council further welcomes the invitation to the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to submit options for “appropriate measures without delay.” 

Turkey however appeared anything but willing to comply with European calls on Thursday as a second drillship, the Yavuz, departed from the port of Dilovasi outside Istanbul, destined for an area near the peninsula of Karpasia in northern Cyprus, where it is scheduled to begin drilling activities in July.

Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez, who addressed the launch ceremony for the vessel alongside Turkish Petroleum Corporation general manager Melih Han Bilgin, issued a warning to what he described as “external actors” cooperating with the Cypriot government not to pursue “illusions” that will not yield results.

According to Donmez, the Yavuz will remain in the area for three months and will operate in a borehole at a depth of 3,300 meters. The Associated Press said its area of operation will be at a distance of 40 miles from the Fatih.

Meanwhile, ahead of Thursday’s summit, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades met with European Council President Donald Tusk and briefed him on the situation, as well as on Ankara’s stated plans to settle the fenced-off town of Varosha in occupied northern Cyprus.

After the meeting, Tusk said that he expected the European Council to confirm its full solidarity with Cyprus and its readiness to respond appropriately.

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