The U.S. on Tuesday voiced concern over Turkey’s gas exploration activities in the Mediterranean Sea, calling on the Turkish government to halt the activities.
Since this spring, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels — Fatih and most recently Yavuz — to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to the resources of the region.
“The United States remains deeply concerned by Turkey’s repeated attempts to conduct drilling operations in the waters off Cyprus and its most recent dispatch of the drillship Yavuz off the Karpas Peninsula,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. “This provocative step raises tensions in the region.”
The Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih launched offshore drilling operations this May in an area 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island of Cyprus.
Athens and Southern Cyprus have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships’ crews and enlisting European Union leaders to join their criticism.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
“We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations and encourage all parties to act with restraint and refrain from actions that increase tensions in the region,” Ortagus said.
“We continue to believe the island’s oil and gas resources, like all of its resources, should be equitably shared between both communities in the context of an overall settlement,” she added.