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Turkey to launch new round of drilling in disputed area off Cyprus

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Turkey’s Yavuz drillship on set sail on Thursday to start drilling to the south of Cyprus, in an area claimed by both the Turkish and Greek Cypriot administrations, the Diken news website reported.

While Turkey had previously conducted drilling operations to the island’s west and east, this will be the first time it sends a drillship to an area the Greek Cypriot administration has already contracted out to companies.

Ambassador Çağatay Erciyes at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the operations are scheduled to begin on Monday.

“The drilling area lies within the Turkish CS [Turkish Cypriot State] registered with the UN and in the permit licenses that the Turkish Government granted to TP [Turkish Petroleum Corporation],” Erciyes tweeted on Friday.

Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades said his government was aware of the development and vowed to take steps within international law.

The Greek Cypriot administration says Turkey’s recent initiatives are increasingly in breach of its sovereignty.

Turkey’s operations in the region have drawn reactions from its Western allies, including the European Union and the United States. Cyprus was divided in 1974 after a Turkish occupation triggered by a brief, Greek-inspired coup.

Several peacemaking efforts have failed, and the discovery of offshore resources in the eastern Mediterranean has complicated the negotiations.

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