21:11 GMT22 October 2020
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    Earlier this month, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez unveiled plans to conduct further oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean Sea after signing a memorandum of understanding with Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

    Israel’s Channel 13 News reported on Saturday, citing an unnamed senior Israeli official, that Turkish Navy ships chased Israeli vessels out of waters over which Ankara claims jurisdiction.

    According to the official, Turkish naval officers contacted the crew of the Israeli vessel and ordered it to leave the area.

    The Israeli ship was reportedly conducting research work in coordination with the Cypriot government within a multilateral deal for the Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline Project that has been approved by the European Union.

    According to the official, the incident negatively impacted the work on the project.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops landed on the island claiming that they had to protect local Turks from the Greek community. Nearly a decade later, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared, but currently only Ankara recognises it.

    The row between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey escalated in 2011 when the first gas deposits were discovered off the coast of the island.

    The Turkish Foreign Ministry has made it plain that Ankara will continue carrying out gas drilling in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), while Nicosia has urged Turkey to cease to "blatantly violate international law" and disregard calls from the EU and the international community to stop its "illegal activities".

    On 27 November, Turkey and the GNA signed two agreements, one of which determines a portion of Turkey’s maritime jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean. The new maritime border established by the agreement runs through a zone in the Mediterranean that Greece and Cyprus claim as theirs.

    Tags:
    vessel, gas development, navy ships, North Cyprus, Cyprus, Turkey, Israel
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