Turkey drills off Cyprus in bid for regional influence

Yavuz class frigate

The discovery of huge gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has sparked a dispute between European Union member Cyprus and Turkey, which last month sent a second ship, the Yavuz, to search for oil and gas in the region.

The European Union yesterday warned Turkey that it would impose sanctions on it if it continued to drill for gas off the coast of Cyprus in the Mediterranean.

Turkish Cyprus has announced that it will offer Greek Cyprus to jointly establish a committee that will deal with a dispute ongoing between the two countries over hydrocarbon drilling in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. "The EU should act on principles instead of taking the Greek Cypriot side", he said.

The Yavuz drillship dropped anchor on Monday to the south of Cyprus' Karpasia peninsula, a jutting northeastern panhandle.

The EU is reluctant to be too hard on Erdogan, needing Turkey - which has been trying fruitlessly to join the bloc for 14 years - for security cooperation and to keep him from flooding Greek islands with more refugees and migrants. Its determination to press ahead with drilling follows Nicosia's decision to take legal action, with arrest warrants issued for the crew of Fatih.

Ankara, which does not have diplomatic relations with Cyprus, says that certain areas in Cyprus's offshore maritime zone, known as an EEZ, fall under the jurisdiction of Turkey or of Turkish Cypriots, who have their own breakaway state in the north of the island which is recognised only by Turkey.

In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus's annexation by Greece, Ankara intervened as a guarantor power.

The incident had been reported in the Turkish Cypriot media earlier this week and was also raised by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci during a meeting with United Nations special envoy Elizabeth Spehar on Wednesday.

While Cyprus wants a tougher line on Turkey, it as failed to have arrested the crew of a Turkish ship drilling in the EEZ, parts of which Turkey doesn't recognize, after issuing an worldwide warrant.

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