Turkey warns companies over energy exploration with Greek Cypriot gov’t in E.Med.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Sunday warned energy companies working with the Greek Cypriot government in carrying out exploratory drilling in the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean, independent news site T24 reported.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hami Aksoy said such activities could damage regional stability, referring specifically to exploratory drilling by Exxon Mobil with permission from the Greek Cypriot government upsetting ‘’some sensitive balances.”

Aksoy’s statements arrive as an ExxonMobil vessel prepares for exploratory drills in Cyprus’ offshore block 10 amid warnings from Turkey, which has said it will not accept attempts to seize natural resources that exclude Ankara and the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

The exploration and drilling of natural gas reserves surrounding Cyprus - split in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup - is a contentious topic between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, which is the only country to recognise the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north of the island. Turkey says Turkish Cypriots should also have a say in gas exploration and a share of any revenues.

“We renew our warnings to companies participating in the Greek Cypriots’ one-sided exploration and drilling. We remind them that sharing the natural resources of the island of Cyprus relates to the core of the Cyprus issue,” the ministry spokesperson highlighted in a statement.

“In addition to our own continental shelf, we will start carrying out activities in areas where the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has given (state-run oil company) Turk Petrolleri a license,” Aksoy added.

Turkish warships this year twice blocked the course of an exploration vessel leased by Italian energy firm Eni off Cyprus.