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Turkey to begin eastern Mediterranean oil exploration despite protests from Greece, Egypt, Cyprus

Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez announced that his country may start exploring for oil in the eastern Mediterranean within 3 or 4 months, in accordance with the maritime border agreement with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA).

Speaking at a ceremony marking the start of the sailing of the Turkish ship “Fateh” to explore for oil and gas to the Black Sea, Donmez said that the Turkish Petroleum Corporation, which requested the permit for exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, will begin operations in areas within the scope of its license after the completion of the process.

“In the framework of the agreement that we reached with Libya, we will be able to start our oil exploration operations there within 3 or 4 months,” Donmez said.

He added that the new “legal” Turkish exploration ship would also go to the Mediterranean later this year.

The Turkish authorities and the Libyan Government of National Accord signed the Maritime Boundary Demarcation Agreement on November 27, 2019 in Istanbul in the presence of the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the President of the Libyan Presidential Council, Fayez al-Sarraj.

Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and other countries oppose the agreement and describe it as “illegal”, a charge rejected by Turkey, which is the largest external supporter of the reconciliation government in its confrontation with the “Libyan National Army” led by Khalifa Haftar.

The move is expected to exacerbate tensions in the region, as Turkey has been locked in disputes for years with Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel over ownership of natural resources, as well as the possibility of European Union sanctions against Ankara.