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Cyprus says Turkish warships continue to block drilling rig

AP  |  Nicosia 

has faced criticism after its warships continued to impede a rig from reaching a location off where Italian company is scheduled to drill for gas. government yesterday told state broadcaster RIK that the rig remains anchored about 50 kilometres from the drilling target off the island nation's southeastern coast. He said both the government and are focused on ensuring that drilling goes ahead as planned. The Turkish warships also prevented other merchant vessels from approaching the area, citing ongoing military manoeuvres, Christodoulides said. says a Turkish notice blocking off the area for military activity violates international law and is legally invalid. In 1974, was divided into a Greek Cypriot south, where the internationally recognised government is seated, and a Turkish Cypriot north that only recognises and where over 35,000 Turkish troops are stationed. opposes the oil drilling, saying it disregards the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the island's natural resources. The says it has a sovereign right to drill for gas and that if the search is successful, any income would be shared equitably if the island is reunified. Greece's foreign ministry condemned what it said was Turkey's disregard for international law and the "blatant violation" of Cyprus' sovereign rights. It also said that Turkey's "provocative" behaviour wasn't appropriate for a country that has worked to join the European Union membership. The EU cautioned to respect the territory of its member states and to avoid ratcheting up tensions. joined the EU in 2004, but only the southern part enjoys full membership benefits. "needs to commit unequivocally to good neighbourly relations and avoid any kind of source of friction, threat or action directed against a member state" said. echoed Andreeva.

In a post on his official account, Tusk said he spoke to Cypriot and called on to "avoid threats or actions" against EU members and to commit to "peaceful dispute settlement." has in the past routinely issued notices binding areas south of for naval drills in response to the island nation's But it's the first time that it has taken such a step to prevent drilling. Last week, said had discovered a potentially at another target southwest of the island.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, February 13 2018. 02:55 IST
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