EU Urges Turkey to Halt Gas Hunt in East Mediterranean

On Sunday, the European Union urged Turkey to "immediately" avoid exploring gas in the contested field of the Eastern Mediterranean, while ties with other countries in the region are increasing.

The call came after Ankara said it intended to expand its search by drilling from next week off the southwest coast of Cyprus, reports BSS.

Turkey 's activities in the eastern Mediterranean also put Greece and the remainder of the EU into disrepair, with France declaring last week that it will increase its position in the area in favor of Athens.

Brussels has repeatedly called on Ankara to prohibit energy mining off Cyprus, claiming that fracking is unlawful because it infringes on the country's exclusive economic zone.

Turkey's new declaration, "unfortunately stirring more conflicts and instability in the Eastern Mediterranean," said EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell in a tweet.

“This action runs counter and undermines efforts to resume dialogue and negotiations, and to pursue immediate de-escalation, which is the only path towards stability and lasting solutions, as reiterated by EU foreign ministers last Friday,” he said.

“I call on the Turkish authorities to end these activities immediately and to engage fully and in good faith in a broad dialogue with the European Union.”

The issue was also at the heart of the Sunday meeting in the Dominican Republic between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The two men spoke of the "urgent need to alleviate conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean," the State Department said in a statement.

At a press briefing after the meeting, Cavusoglu said Ankara would “continue to defend its interests”.

The Turkish Navy said in a statement late Saturday that the drill ship Yavuz, which has been stationed off Cyprus for the last few months, will be exploring the southwest coast of the island from 18 August to 15 September.

Turkey has stayed adamant in the face of the opposition, arguing that it has the freedom to quest for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean, where national nations are competing for resources following the discovery of vast energy reserves.

“We strongly advise against going to the search area,” the Turkish navy warned in its statement.

Last week, Ankara sent the seismic exploration vessel Oruc Reis, accompanied by warships, to the region contested by Greece, causing the wrath of Athens and the EU.

On Friday, EU foreign ministers showed unity with Greece and called for a de-escalation of the crisis.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that Ankara was ready for dialogue but insisted: “We will not back down in the face of sanctions and threats.”

The defence ministry meanwhile published photographs of naval manoeuvres in the eastern Mediterranean, showing warships escorting another seismic research vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa.

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