EU warns Turkey against ‘illegal’ Mediterranean gas exploration plans

After Erdogan vows to start searching waters ‘as soon as possible,’ defying a mega-deal signed by Israel, Greece and Cyprus, European countries accuse Ankara of stoking conflict

19 January 2020

The European Union has urged Turkey to drop plans to drill for oil and gas around Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean, saying such exploration was “illegal.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Thursday that his country would start exploring for gas in the eastern Mediterranean “as soon as possible” this year, after signing a maritime deal with Libya.

“Concrete steps towards creating an environment conducive to dialogue in good faith are needed,” EU foreign policy spokesman Peter Stano said in a statement released Saturday.

“The intention by Turkey to launch further exploration and drilling activities in the wider region goes, regrettably, in the opposite direction.”

Ankara has angered neighboring countries in the Mediterranean with an agreement signed with the Tripoli government in November, which claimed extensive areas of the sea for Turkey.

Greece says the deal fails to take into account the island of Crete, while Turkey has already upset Cyprus by sending ships to search for oil and gas off the divided island.