Turkey has purchased a third drill ship with which it will seek to expand exploration for hydrocarbons in an area of the Eastern Mediteranean that it claims as its own territory, setting the stage for a new confrontation with Cyprus.
Turkey has long said that Turkish Cyprus, a breakaway nation in northern Cyprus recognized only by Ankara, has rights to explore for hydrocarbons in its waters. Turkey’s actions have been condemned by Cyprus, the European Union and the United States.
Turkey has been left out of a solidifying alliance in the East Med that saw Greece, Cyprus and Israel last month agree to construct a pipeline to ship natural gas to Europe.
At the same time, seven countries, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Israel, have agreed to lay the groundwork to create the Eastern Mediteranean Gas Forum, which aims to establish a regional gas market and share the burden of infrastructure costs, thereby lowering prices.
Turkey has meanwhile constructed an alliance with Libya that has seen it gain large areas of Tripoli’s sea, leading Turkish President Recep Tayyip to say it was “no longer legally possible” for drilling activities or a pipeline to be established without either the approval of Turkey or Libya.