18:33 GMT03 August 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Turkey is determined to continue protecting its rights and interests under international law with regard to drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, the country's National Security Council said in a press release following a session on Wednesday, as quoted by the Turkish Presidency's press service.

    "Our absolute determination regarding the protection of our rights, ties, and interests emanating from international law in the Eastern Mediterranean was underlined [during the session]", the press release read, adding that "the initiatives ... of countries and actors that disregard the presence and rights of the Turkish community in [Cyprus] will by no means be allowed".

    Turkey's offshore gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean has long troubled its relations with the European Union and Cyprus, which insists that the drilling violates its exclusive economic zones. The EU has introduced personal sanctions against individuals and companies involved in the drilling, which include freezing assets and a ban on travel to EU member states.

    Turkey, which backs the independence movement of the Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island, has insisted that it was drilling in their interests.

    Turkey's drilling operations in what Cyprus claims to be its exclusive economic zones in the Mediterranean have long been a point of contention between Ankara and Nicosia. The area in question is believed to be rich in hydrocarbon reserves. Both Ankara and the Republic of Cyprus believe that the exploration of natural resources in this area is their inherent right.

    drilling, Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus, Turkey
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