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Drillship on mission in conflict zone offshore Cyprus13 November 2018

The Stena Icemax, a drillship leased by ExxonMobil, has arrived in the offshore Block 10 of the Cyprus Island to conduct upstream activities, Athens News Agency, ANA reported on Monday.

According to ANA, the ship began preparatory works for drilling as of Nov. 15 despite Turkey's warnings to avoid Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral upstream activities around the island.

ExxonMobil was previously invited by the Greek Cypriots to bid on other unexplored blocks in the region.

These planned unilateral activities have angered Turkey, a guarantor of the Cypriot Island, and on Nov. 4, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cautioned that Turkey would never allow attempts to extort natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean region without including Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

During the launch ceremony of Turkey's first indigenous warship program to Turkish Naval Forces in Istanbul, Erdogan reiterated Turkey's position on exploration around the Cypriot Island and said that Turkey's motivation is based purely on protecting the rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots and not on encroaching on the rights, laws, and territories of other countries.

Also speaking at the same ceremony, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said any project that excludes Turkey's participation in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions would be unable to come to fruition.

"The Turkish Armed Forces and Naval Forces will take every step to protect Turkey's rights and interests," Akar warned.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling activity in the Eastern Mediterranean while arguing that Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.

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