January 20, 2020 - 13:20 AMT
Cyprus accuses Turkey of being "pirate state"

Cyprus accused Turkey of being "pirate state", attacking Ankara's exploratory oil and gas drilling off its coastal waters a day after the EU issued its own warning, Middle East Eye reports.

"Turkey is turning into a pirate state in the eastern Mediterranean," said the statement on Sunday, January 19 from the Cypriot presidency. "Turkey insists on going down the path of international illegality," it added, according to AFP.

The statement came a day after the European Union called on Turkey to drop its plans to drill around Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean, arguing that such exploration was "illegal".

Cyprus's internationally recognized government discovered offshore gas in 2011, but has been at loggerheads with Turkey over maritime zones around the island, where it has granted licences to multinational companies for oil and gas research, Reuters said.

Turkey, which does not have diplomatic relations with Cyprus's government, says that some areas in which Nicosia has operations are either on the Turkish continental shelf or in areas where a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state has rights over any finds.