09:16 GMT13 July 2020
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    Turkey has reportedly sent a second ship to drill in waters near Cyprus amid an escalating dispute with the European Union over Ankara's fossil fuel extraction activities in the region. The situation is aggravated by the island's disputed status and the issue of ownership of its natural resources.

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned Ankara on Thursday that it could expect a tough response.

    "We are in full solidarity with Cyprus. What Turkey is doing in the territorial waters of Cyprus is totally unacceptable [...] The commission has been charged to propose measures to be taken as soon as possible when it comes to this conflict and we'll do so, and these will not be soft measures", Juncker told reporters after the summit in Brussels.

    Earlier this week, the Council of the European Union called upon Turkey to respect the rights of Cyprus in connection with Ankara's maritime drilling and instructed the European Commission and other bodies to immediately submit response options.

    Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Faruk Kaymakci reacted by saying that the economic bloc had no right to define boundaries in the Mediterranean region.

    The first gas deposits were discovered off the coast of Cyprus in 2011 and since then have become a hot issue.

    Oil and gas exploration off the coast of Cyprus has long been the subject of conflicting jurisdiction claims by Ankara, which backs the independence movement of the Turkish Cypriots in the north of Cyprus, and the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, governed by the Greek Cypriot community.

    Each side believes that exploration for and extraction of natural resources in this area is their inherent right. In early May, Ankara sent its first drilling vessel, the Fatih, to the region.

    Turkey has repeatedly stated that it cannot be excluded from any project that involves drilling in the hydrocarbon fields in the eastern Mediterranean region and on the Cypriot shelf.

    Cyprus and the European Union, however, view the Turkish fossil fuel extraction activities in the region as illegal.

    Cyprus has long been divided into the Republic of Cyprus and the non-recognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In 1974, Turkey sent troops to the island in response to an attempted coup by the Greek military. As a result, Ankara occupied nearly 40 percent of the country's territory, where the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was proclaimed in 1983.

    Turkey has so far remained the only nation in the world that considers the republic as a sovereign state.


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    dispute, Cyprus, drilling, Turkey, Jean-Claude Juncker
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