A geopolitical confrontation is trying to be averted as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday that Turkey would begin drilling for oil off the coast of Cyprus in what is called Cypriot EEZ — exclusive economic zone.
Ankara contests the internationally recognized territorial region which is believed to be rich in natural gas.
The United States expressed “deep concern” over Turkey’s plans.
“The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its Exclusive Economic Zone,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said on Sunday.
Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Affairs and the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance, U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), said that Turkish President Erdogan “continues to test the resolve of the United States and the rest of the international community to hold his regime accountable for sowing chaos and discord that undermines regional security and stifles prosperity.”
“Erdogan’s lack of respect for international sovereignty,” according to Bilirakis, “is cause for serious concern and does nothing to advance regional interests. I commend the Trump Administration and the European Union for swiftly condemning Turkey’s actions and calling it what it is – illegal. The United States must remain steadfast in our support for Cyprus, continue to condemn flagrant acts in violation of international law, and be prepared to work with our partners to respond quickly and forcefully to transgression of international law through targeted sanctions and foreign aid restrictions.”
Members of the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA), who happened to be in Cyprus on an annual delegation trip when the Turkish foreign minister made his remarks, expressed strong condemnation.
“AHEPA strongly condemns Turkey’s stated intention to drill for gas in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Cyprus and is deeply concerned about the situation. Turkey must respect the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus and refrain from any illegal activity. Turkey’s provocative actions elevate tensions and threaten stability in the eastern Mediterranean and are not in the best interest of the international community.”
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