TURKEY: A second ship is heading for oil and gas exploration off the coast of Cyprus
A second Turkish drilling vessel will begin drilling for oil and natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean in a week, a move that could strain relations with Cyprus over exploration rights, Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dunmiz said.
Last month, EU leaders warned Turkey that gas exploration in disputed waters should be halted so that the EU would not take action against it after pressure from Greece and Cyprus to intervene.
A Turkish ship is already off the coast of Cyprus and Cyprus issued arrest warrants against its crew in June.
According to the official Anatolia news agency quoted Donmys as saying that the second drilling vessel Yawoz is currently in the port of Mersin for final inspection and load supplies.
Ankara, which has no diplomatic relations with Cyprus, says certain sectors of the maritime zone off Cyprus, known as the "exclusive economic zone", fall under the sovereignty or sovereignty of the Turkish Cypriots, who rule a separatist state in the north of the island that is recognized only by Turkey.
"God willing, Yawoz will begin drilling within a week in the eastern Mediterranean, in the Karpas peninsula, in the area where we have been licensed by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," Dunmes said.