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EU member Cyprus condemns new Turkish drilling off island

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus condemns Turkey’s second attempt to drill for oil and gas in waters off the divided island, after the EU warned Ankara to stop its “illegal” activities or face sanctions.

“The Cypriot government condemns in the strongest terms the new illegal Turkish drilling in the east of Cyprus,” the presidency says.

It says the second attempt is taking place off the Karpas peninsula, in the northeast of the island, and amounts to “an escalation of continued violations by Turkey.”

Ankara has sent a second ship –- the Yavuz — for exploratory activities off eastern Cyprus, after its Fatih vessel entered the island’s exclusive economic zone in the west in May.

The region near the island is believed have rich natural gas deposits, triggering a race between Turkey and EU member Cyprus, which has ramped up exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s first drilling attempts prompted EU leaders in June to warn Ankara of “targeted and appropriate” sanctions if it did not stop its “illegal activities.”

The Cyprus government says that “Turkey continues to violate international law… disrespecting the calls of the European Union and the international community.”

Ankara says its actions abide by international law and that it is drilling inside its continental shelf.

— AFP

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