EU warns Turkey against ‘illegal’ Cyprus drilling

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The EU on Monday warned Turkey not to press ahead with exploratory drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus, calling the plan illegal and vowing to “respond appropriately”.

The bloc’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said all 28 EU foreign ministers had reconfirmed their support for Cyprus in the dispute. Turkey has also faced criticism from the United States after announcing last week that it would start drilling operations in the Mediterranean.

“We call urgently on Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone and refrain from any such illegal action, to which the European Union will respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus,” Mogherini said after talks with EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Ankara has rejected the criticism and plans to go ahead with the drilling operations, which are scheduled to last until September.

Turkey considers the area to be part of its continental shelf and granted exploration licenses to Turkish Petroleum in 2009 and 2012. The discovery of huge gas reserves in the Mediterranean has fueled the race to tap underwater resources.

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