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Turkey to resume drilling for gas near Cyprus: Minister

AFP – Turkey next month will resume drilling operation near the divided island of Cyprus, a top official said yesterday, threatening to spark a new diplomatic row with the European Union (EU).

The EU came close to sanctioning Ankara in 2020 for pushing into contested east Mediterranean waters in search of fresh natural gas reserves.

Turkey had been drilling near waters claimed by Greece and the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) – recognised only by Ankara.

The 2020 crisis was smoothed over when Turkey pulled back a research vessel from the resource-rich region and halted its drilling operation near the island.

But Vice President Fuat Oktay said during a visit to TRNC coinciding with the breakaway statelet’s national holiday that Turkey would resume drilling off the island next month. “Our Abdulhamid Han drilling ship is planning to start its operations in the Mediterranean next month.”

A Turkish Navy vessel patrols as the drilling ship ‘Yavuz’ to be dispatched to the Mediterranean, is docked at the port of Dilovasi, outside Istanbul. PHOTO: AP