Turkish Foreign Ministry rejects Cyprus energy exploration rights auction

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has reacted angrily to the Republic of Cyprus’s invitation to energy companies to bid on a new area for energy exploration off the coast of the island on Thursday, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.

The Greek-Cypriot government opened the new zone, known as block seven, exclusively to companies that are already part of the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone to bid on the project in an effort to block Turkish interference, Kathimerini reported.

Potentially giant natural gas reserves have been found in areas of the Eastern Mediterranean close to Cyprus, meaning exploration rights could lead to highly lucrative finds.

Turkey, however, does not recognise the Greek-Cypriot government that controls the southern part of the island, and is the only country to recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Turkey has thus rejected exploration deals struck between the Greek Republic of Cyprus and third parties, which it says are an infringement of Turkish Cypriots’ rights, and has blocked exploration vessels from operating in the region.

“(The) decision by the Greek-Cypriot government is proof that the equal rights and interests of the Turkish-Cypriot side with regard to the island’s natural resources continue to be ignored,” Kathimerini quoted the Turkish Foreign Ministry as saying.

The foreign ministry’s statement went on to say the decision by Cyprus had violated Turkish rights, and vowed to continue taking any measures necessary to prevent exploration activities in the area.