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Turkey's 2nd ship to drill off eastern Cyprus despite European Union warnings

Turkey's 2nd ship to drill off eastern Cyprus despite European Union warnings

The Turkish foreign ministry on Wednesday morning in a statement accused Brussels of not being able to "take on the role of impartial mediator" in the dispute.

Turkey contests the rights of Cyprus to explore for gas, sending its own drilling ships to stake claims around the island.

Cyprus says Turkey is encroaching in waters where the east Mediterranean island nation has exclusive economic rights, and Ankara's actions are contrary to worldwide law.

In May, Ankara sent the ship Fatih into Cyprus' exclusive economic zone to begin drilling there, while the Yavuz was deployed last month to search for oil and gas to the east.

Its Yavuz ship had recently arrived to the east of Cyprus and would conduct drilling activities.

Cyprus is divided between the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus and a breakaway state set up after the 1974 Turkish occupation, following a coup sponsored by the military government then ruling Greece.

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Referring to the presence of Turkish drillships in the region, Cypriot government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou told Greek state television: "The Republic of Cyprus will certainly not quit its sovereign rights, and our government is mobilising the legal and diplomatic means we have".

Last month, European Union leaders warned Turkey to end its gas drilling in disputed waters or face action from the bloc, after Greece and Cyprus pressed other European Union states to speak out.

The European Union said in a statement on Monday that a second attempt by Turkey to drill for oil and gas was an "unacceptable escalation", having already warned Ankara to stop its "illegal" activities or face sanctions.

"This provocative step raises tensions in the region", the State Department said late Tuesday.

European Union diplomats are meeting in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss any possible sanctions on Turkey over the drilling before European Union foreign ministers meet on Monday.