Cyprus accuses Turkey of piracy after Turkish drillship docks off shores

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NICOSIA, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus on Monday accused Turkey of piracy after a Turkish drillship docked off its southwestern shores with the intention of carrying out a natural gas drilling in an area where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights.

"The specific maritime area spans exploration blocks 6 and 7, which have been duly licensed to the European companies ENI and TOTAL. The hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation of these blocks constitute exclusive sovereign rights of Cyprus," said a statement issued by the Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus.

State television reported that the drillship Yavuz set off on Sunday night from the port of Tasucu in southern Turkey and reached its destination later on Monday afternoon.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week that Ankara would continue drilling and even deploy a third drillship in areas claimed by Cyprus.

He said Turkey had told the European Union (EU), the United Nations and even Greece that the Greek Cypriots should not have carried out any unilateral activities in the Eastern Mediterranean before reaching an agreement on a fair distribution of revenue with the Turkish Cypriots, but Ankara's position was ignored.

Cypriot state television said "Turkey's escalating and provocative actions, equate to utter contempt for the EU itself," urging "all natural and legal persons involved in Turkey's illegal drillings to immediately terminate any form of cooperation or assistance in any illegal activities within Cyprus' maritime zones."

It added that the Republic of Cyprus will continue to defend its interests and rights using all legal means at its disposal, on the basis of international and European law.

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and his team are in contact with the Cypriot and Greek authorities concerning the movements of the drilling vessel Yavuz, Cyprus News Agency reported, citing European Commission Spokesman Peter Stano. Enditem

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