Turkey to send second drilling ship off Cyprus despite diplomatic row

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Turkey's first drilling vessel, Fatih, starts conducting its first deep drilling in offshore Antalya on the county's southern Mediterranean coast, Turkey on October 30, 2018. AFP PHOTOS

Despite diplomatic tension, Turkey on Thursday announced that it would send a second drilling ship, the Yavuz, to search for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“It will start drilling in early July under a permit received from the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus [KKTC],” Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez told reporters at a press conference in Japan.

The first ship anchored in the eastern Mediterranean in early May sparked diplomatic tension between Ankara, Athens and Nicosia.

Greece and Cyprus will push their EU partners to penalize Turkey, including the possible option of sanctions, if Ankara is verified to have started drilling for gas west of Cyprus, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday, according to Reuters.

Turkey’s activities within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are tantamount to an attack on the Republic of Cyprus, government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said, the Kathimerini daily reported on Monday.

Last week Cyprus has issued arrest warrants for 25 people including crewmembers of the Fatih, the first Turkish drilling vessel, and officials at firms partnered with the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO).

The United States also expressed concerns over Turkey’s efforts in the eastern Mediterranean.

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