The Turkish drillship Yavuz has started to drill off the coast of Northern Cyprus
Turkey's second drillship will begin drilling for oil and natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean within a week, according to the energy and natural resources minister on Saturday.
The foreign ministry said Turkey's Fatih ship had started drilling to the west of the Mediterranean island at the start of May. A second vessel, the Yavuz drillship, has now sailed to an area off the Karpas peninsula on Cyprus' east coast.
Cyprus says Turkey is encroaching in waters where the east Mediterranean island nation has exclusive economic rights, and Ankara’s actions are contrary to international law.
Turkey and the internationally-recognised government of the divided island have overlapping claims in that part of the Mediterranean, an area thought to be rich in natural gas.
Vice President Fuat Oktay on Saturday warned against underestimating Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean or violating its rights and those of the TRNC.
"Those who move against the legitimate rights of Turkey or the TRNC and discount Turkey in the region will not be able to reach their aims," Oktay said in Lefkoşa, the Turkish Cypriot capital.
The EU has repeatedly asked Turkey to cease interference with Cyprus' drilling program. On Wednesday, European diplomats are expected to consider the possibility of cutting off aid and limiting the European Investment Bank's lending to Turkey.
"Turkey’s declared intention to illegally conduct a new drilling operation northeast of Cyprus is of grave concern. This second planned drilling operation, two months after the start of the ongoing drilling operations west of Cyprus, is a further unacceptable escalation which violates the sovereignty of Cyprus," said the European External Action Service in a statement Monday. "Turkey's continued actions have a serious negative impact across the range of EU-Turkey relations. As mandated by the European Council, the Commission and the EEAS are about to present options to the Council for appropriate measures."