EU urges Turkey to end renewed drilling in E. Mediterranean

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has urged Turkey to immediately end its renewed drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“I call on the Turkish authorities to end these activities immediately and to engage fully and in good faith in a broad dialogue with the European Union,” Xinhua news agency quoted Borrell as saying in a statement on Sunday.

The statement came a day after Turjey announced on Saturday that it will resume drilling activities by the Yavuz vessel, an ultra-deepwater drillship, in a maritime zone that has been delineated by Cyprus and Egypt.

Borrell said the move “regrettably fuels further tensions and insecurity in the Eastern Mediterranean” and “runs counter and undermines efforts to resume dialogue and negotiations, and to pursue immediate de-escalation”.

In an urgent meeting convened by the High Representative on August 14, the foreign ministers of EU member states considered the recent naval mobilizations by Turkey would “lead to greater antagonism and distrust” and supported Borrell to re-establish dialogue and facilitate re-engagement with Turkey.

The High Representative will also prepare “options on further appropriate measures in case tensions do not abate”, according to the Council of the EU.

On August 7, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country resumed drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, one day after Egypt and Greece signed an agreement on the demarcation of the maritime borders between the two countries and setting up an exclusive economic zone between them.

Further escalating the tensions, Turkey on August 10 sent its seismic survey vessel Oruc Reis, escorted by Turkish warships, to the Eastern Mediterranean.

The country said that the Oruc Reis, which has lowered 1,750 km of seismic cables into the Mediterranean Sea for a two-dimensional seismic survey, would be operating in the Mediterranean Sea until August 23.

Greece, which also deployed warships to monitor the vessel, has called on Turkey to withdraw vessels from the area.

The discovery of rich gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean in the last decade has triggered a race to tap the region’s underwater resources and sparked tensions between Ankara and Athens.