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EU-Turkey summit may be jeopardy due to Cyprus drilling spat, EU says

Europe
23.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brussels (dpa) - European Union leaders will decide during a summit next month whether to go ahead with a summit between top EU officials and Turkey later in March due to Turkey blocking the exploration of a potential natural gas field off the coast of EU member Cyprus.

European Council President Donald Tusk said on Friday, on the sidelines of an informal EU summit, that EU leaders reaffirmed the right of Cyprus to exploit its natural resources after Turkish warships had been preventing explorations by a drilling rig from Italian energy company ENI.

"I urgently call on Turkey to terminate these activities," Tusk said.

"We are ready to cooperate with Turkey and will assess at our March European Council whether the conditions are there to hold the leaders‘ meeting with Turkey in Varna on the 26th of March."

The issue over drilling reignited old tensions in the south-eastern Mediterranean Sea. Cyprus, an island state, has been divided into a predominantly Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north since 1974.

After ENI and French multinational Total began drilling in July, Turkey insisted that the Greek Cypriot administration may not unilaterally move to exploit resources and deployed a military ship to the area in November.

Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, but EU rules only apply in the southern Greek part. The northern territory, populated by ethnic Turks, had been recognized only by Ankara.

 

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