European Union leaders warned Turkey on Thursday to respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus amid a growing dispute over a Turkish oil drilling ship that entered Cypriot territory in the eastern Mediterranean, Politico reported.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades briefed fellow EU leaders on the issue at a summit in Romania.
“Today President Anastasiades also informed the leaders about the Turkish drilling activities within the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus,” Council President Donald Tusk said at the summit’s closing news conference. “The European Union stands united behind the Republic of Cyprus and expects Turkey to respect sovereign rights of the EU member states. The European Council will continue to follow these developments closely.”
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he stands firmly behind Cyprus and urged Turkey to refrain from provocations.
“We had the chance together with President Anastasiades to highlight as a core issue of today’s summit the illegal actions of Turkey within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone,” Tsipras said. “I completely supported the position of the president of Cyprus, who asked for this issue to be confronted as a European issue and I pointed out that the European Union has a special geopolitical and energy interest in the area of eastern Mediterranean.”
Tsipras said he had urged the EU to consider “the steps and necessary actions and measures, if this unilateral, provocative behavior and violation of international law continues. Turkey must understand that it should sit and discuss instead of continuing its unilateral violations of international law.”
He added: “We want a Mediterranean region of peace and cooperation, and not a Mediterranean of violations of international law. And this is not a Greek and Cypriot position, it’s a European position.”
Last week Cypriot authorities said the Turkish drillship Fatih, escorted by a Turkish navy frigate, was anchored some 68 kilometers (42 miles) northwest of Paphos, a resort town on the island’s southwestern edge.
Turkey, which doesn’t recognize Cyprus as a state, claims part of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone falls within its own continental shelf.
Cyprus says any future gas proceeds will be shared equitably with Turkish Cypriots after a reunification accord is reached.
Energy companies ExxonMobil, Noble Energy, France’s Total and Italy’s Eni are licensed to drill off Cyprus’ southern coast. Sizeable natural gas deposits have so far been found in three offshore areas.