Five countries condemn Turkey's actions in eastern Mediterranean

Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece and the UAE have condemned Turkey’s “illegal activities” and expansionism in pursuing natural gas in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus.

The foreign ministers of Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, France and the United Arab Emirates denounced the “illegal Turkish activities in progress” in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Cyprus and its territorial waters, during a teleconference on Monday to discuss the latest developments in the eastern Mediterranean, as well as a number of regional crises that threaten peace and stability in this region.

In their joint statement released after the teleconference, the ministers said that these activities represented “a gross violation of international law”, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Turkey is currently making its sixth attempt in less than a year to conduct drilling operations in the maritime areas of Cyprus.

“The ministers called on Turkey to fully respect the sovereignty of all states and their sovereign rights in their maritime areas of the eastern Mediterranean," their statement said.

The five ministers also condemned the escalation of Turkish violations of Greek national airspace, including over flights over populated areas and territorial waters.

Turkey first sent a drill ship escorted by a warship in July last year.Turkish research vessels are also carrying out seismic surveys inside Cyprus’s economic zone.

The EU has repeatedly condemned Turkey’s exploration off Cyprus, saying the activity breached the sovereign rights of a member nation.

In February, the EU froze the assets of two top officials from the state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation and imposed European travel bans on them.

Turkey has said it was acting to defend its rights and those of Turkish Cypriots to the area’s energy resources.

Turkey does not recognise Cyprus as a state and claims as its own much of the island’s economic zone, part of which it says falls within its continental shelf.