The State Department called on Turkey to reverse its decision to begin drilling operations within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.
In a statement, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus called the decision “highly provocative” that “risks raising tensions in the region.”
"The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey's announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its Exclusive Economic Zone," Ortagus said Sunday.
"This step is highly provocative and risks raising tensions in the region. We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations and encourage all parties to act with restraint."
Turkish media on Saturday cited Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying a Turkish ship had started drilling in areas west of Cyprus for which reportedly the breakaway north had issued a permit.
The Turkish drillship reportedly maintains position 40 nautical miles west of Paphos and 83 nautical miles south of the Turkish coast. The area lies within the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf of Cyprus.
In a statement over the weekend the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the Turkish move a violation of the sovereign rights of Cyprus according to international and EU law.
The EU's foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement: ''We express grave concern over Turkey's announced intention to carry out drilling activities within the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus. In March 2018, the European Council strongly condemned Turkey's continued illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean. In this context, we urgently call on Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone and refrain from any such illegal action to which the European Union will respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus''.
Following Mogherini's statement the Turkish MFA responded with its own statement rejecting the High Representatives premise: ''We reject the statement made today (4 May 2019) by Ms. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, regarding our hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.