Mar 08 2018

Turkey sees Cyprus gas search as a threat if not agreed with Turkish Cypriots

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said any effort to explore for oil and gas off Cyprus not agreed with both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides of the divided island would be seen by Turkey as a threat.

The comments come as tension is rising over Cyprus as an exploration ship belonging to U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil is due off the island and U.S. navy ships are also expected in the area. Turkish warships last month twice blocked an exploration vessel leased by Italian energy company Eni off Cyprus.

Some of the world’s biggest gas discoveries in the last decade have been made in the eastern Mediterranean, including the huge Zohr gas field in Egyptian waters that borders the Cypriot exclusive economic zone.

Turkey is alone in not recognising the Republic of Cyprus as having sovereignty over the entire island and instead backs a breakaway Turkish Cypriot administration in the north of the island that Turkish forces it invaded in 1974.

“All types of natural sources, including hydrocarbon gases around the island are the shared resources of all Cypriots, whether they live in the north or in the south,” Yıldırım told a news conference in Ankara, alongside the prime minister of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Tufan Erhüman.

“Therefore, we can never approve any unilateral action. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus also cannot allow that. If a permanent, sustainable two-state solution for Cyprus can be achieved, then all those resources can be used for the welfare of all people living on the island,” the Turkish pro-government newspaper Yeni Şafak quoted Yıldırım as saying.

“All fait accompli actions that will occur through such provocative efforts will be met with appropriate response. If someone is looking for a state party in the island to negotiate the drilling of underground resources around Cyprus, both the north and the south should be the address. Any effort that does not ensure the agreement of both sides will be perceived by us as a threat and as a violation of sovereignty of northern Cyprus,” he said on Wednesday.