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Turkey says EU funding cuts will not affect its drilling off Cyprus

Daren Butler

Istanbul - Turkey plans to send a fourth ship to waters off Cyprus to search for gas and oil despite European Union moves to curb contacts and funding for Ankara over the issue, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

“The decisions will not affect in the slightest our country’s determination to continue hydrocarbon activities in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. The dispute stems from overlapping claims to regional waters by Turkey and Cyprus linked to the split of the island between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Ankara rejects agreements the internationally recognized Cypriot government has reached with other Mediterranean states on maritime economic zones. Turkey has told energy firms not to work with the Cypriot government and sent ships to drill off the island, divided since a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a Greek-inspired coup. EU foreign ministers on Monday suspended negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and agreed not to hold the Association Council and further meetings of the EU-Turkey high-level dialogues for the time being.

It also endorsed a proposal to reduce the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 and invited the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey, notably with regard to sovereign-backed lending. The EU’s failure to mention Turkish Cypriots in its decisions “showed how biased and partisan the EU is on the subject of Cyprus,” the ministry said in a statement.

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