07:41 GMT +314 October 2019
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    EU's Suspension of High-Level Talks With Turkey Will Not Affect Ankara's Plans - Foreign Ministry

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The recent decision by the Council of the European Union to suspend high-level talks with Turkey will not affect Ankara's determination to continue its activities in the eastern Mediterranean, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

    On Monday evening, the Council suspended high-level dialogue with Turkey in light of conflict around Ankara's drilling for fossil fuel resources in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

    "The EU’s decision to suspend high-level talks with Turkey will not affect our determination to continue activities on hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey will continue to defend its rights and the rights of Turkish Cypriots, and will also intensify its activities in this aspect," the statement from the ministry said, as cited by Anadolu Agency.

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

    Cyprus has been split between Greek and Turkish communities since 1974, although the Turkish-backed northern republic has not been recognized internationally. The Republic of Cyprus, which de jure has sovereignty over the entire island, joined the European Union in 2004.

    In less than three months, Turkey sent two ships to explore gas fields off the northeast coast of Cyprus, which it saw as its continental shelf. The move prompted harsh condemnations from Cyprus.

    The Council has repeatedly called upon Turkey to respect the rights of Cyprus in connection with Ankara's drilling. In June, it instructed the European Commission and other bodies to immediately submit response options.

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