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Eastern Mediterranean crisis balloons as Turkish drill ships multiply

Disputes over oil and gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean have caused a spike in tensions between Ankara and Turkish Cypriots on the one side, and the EU and Greek Cypriots on the other.
Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz sets sail in Izmit Bay, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, off the port of Dilovasi, Turkey, June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer - RC17D18454C0
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NICOSIA, Cyprus — In the early hours of July 1, a loud shudder rippled through Nicosia, the divided capital of Cyprus. Spooked residents might have mistaken the explosion for the opening shots of another war between the Greek Cypriots and Turkey amid sharpening tensions over drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean that are drawing in regional stakeholders Egypt, Israel and Greece.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu ramped these up to a new level last week with stark warnings that the Greek Cypriots “can’t take the slightest step in the Eastern Mediterranean. If they dare, they will receive the appropriate response like in the past.” Cavusoglu was alluding to Turkey’s 1974 military intervention on the island that has left it divided between the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus recognized solely by Ankara.

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