Turkey slams European Union claim that drilling off Cyprus is illegal

Turkey rejects EU claims that drilling off Cyprus is illegitimate

Turkey rejects EU claims that drilling off Cyprus is illegitimate

A first discussion will take place Wednesday in Brussels regarding a number of European Union sanctions on Turkey following a call by Cyprus for European Union solidarity after Turkish drilling activities off Cyprus.

In May, Ankara sent the ship Fatih into Cyprus' exclusive economic zone to begin drilling there, while the Yavuz was deployed last month to search for oil and gas to the east.

Cyprus says Turkey is encroaching in waters where the east Mediterranean island nation has exclusive economic rights, and Ankara's actions are contrary to global law.

"We reject the statements by the Greek Foreign Ministry and European Union officials which describe these activities of our country as illegitimate", the Turkish foreign ministry statement said.

Cyprus is divided between the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus and a breakaway state set up after the 1974 Turkish occupation, following a coup sponsored by the military government then ruling Greece. Turkish Cypriots claim most of seven blocks in the east.

Earlier, Egypt had also expressed reservations over Ankara's actions.

"The European Union has become an actor of this play of unlawfulness staged by the Greek Cypriot-Greek partnership against the rights of the Turkish Cypriots who are the co-owners of the Island", the ministry said and stressed that the EU would not be able to assume the role of an honest broker in the negotiation processes towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue.

The statement came in response to a comment by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias that "Turkey should stop being the spoiled child of the Eastern Mediterranean" amid escalating tensions over the oil and gas resources on seabed.

"Israel follows with serious concern recent steps taken by Turkey in the waters off Cyprus's northeast coast and reiterates its full support and solidarity with Cyprus in exercising its sovereign rights in its maritime areas and its opposition to any attempt to violate these rights", Nachshon wrote.

Turkey's foreign ministry said the Fatih ship was drilling in fields within the continental shelf that Turkey declared to the United Nations, and for which Turkish state energy company Turkish Petroleum (TP) had issued licences in 2009 and 2012.