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AFP
June 17, 2019

Erdogan says drilling off Cyprus to continue despite warning

World

AFP
June 17, 2019

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Turkey would not back down from gas exploration in Cyprus after southern European leaders urged Ankara to stop.

"We continue and will continue to search in those areas that are ours," Erdogan said during a televised speech in Istanbul. "Someone has given an order. They will apparently arrest our boats’ personnel. You will come off badly if you do so," Erdogan warned, after Cyprus reportedly issued arrests warrants for crew members of Turkey’s drilling ship, Fatih, last week.

After a summit of the southern European Union countries in Valletta, the seven nations issued a joint declaration on Friday, expressing "serious concern over actual or potential drilling activities within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone". They urged the EU to keep an eye on the issue "and, in case Turkey does not cease its illegal activities, to consider appropriate measures in full solidarity with Cyprus".

The Turkish foreign ministry on Saturday said the declaration was "biased" and contrary to international law, accusing the European Union of siding with EU members Cyprus and Greece. The discovery of huge gas reserves in the Mediterranean has fuelled the race to tap underwater resources.

The island is divided between the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus and the northern third under Turkish military control since 1974, formed after Ankara’s troops occupied the area in response to a coup sponsored by the Greek military junta.

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