Turkey slams southern EU nations on drilling bid off Cyprus

Turkey slams southern EU nations on drilling bid off Cyprus
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media after Friday prayers, in Istanbul, Friday, June 7, 2019. Erdogan says his country is determined to protect Turkish Cypriots' rights to gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean.(Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey has criticized the leaders of southern European Union nations for urging the EU to consider taking action against Turkey over its bid to drill for gas in waters where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Saturday that a declaration issued by the leaders of France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Malta shows the EU cannot be a “neutral and trusted actor” to resolve divided Cyprus.

It called on EU states to acknowledge Turkish Cypriots’ equal rights over the island’s resources. It added that Turkey, which has sent a drill ship to Cyprus’ western coast, was determined to protect those rights.

Cyprus’ government hasn’t said so publicly but it has issued international arrest warrants against the ship’s crew and foreign company officials assisting in the drilling.