Jul 31 2018

Turkey warns countries supporting Cyprus oil and gas search

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has warned the United States, Israel, Greece and Egypt over their support for efforts by the Republic of Cyprus to look for oil and gas off its shores, saying Turkish Cypriots in a breakaway state in the north of the island also had a right to a share in the wealth, left-nationalist broadcaster Ulusal Kanal said.

“We recommend that the representatives of these countries not overstep the mark,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said.

It was unacceptable that the Greek Cypriot side should carry out drilling on its own as though it were acting like the eternal owner of the island, Aksoy said, adding that the Turkish Cypriots in the north had common rights to the island’s natural resources.

Cyprus has been split into a Turkish Cypriot north and a Greek Cypriot south since Turkish troops invaded the northern third of the island in 1974 in response to a short-lived Greek Cypriot coup. Only Turkey recognises the breakaway Turkish Cypriot statelet in the north, while the rest of the world recognises the government in the south as having sovereignty over the whole of the island.

Turkey has tried to block oil and gas exploration off Cyprus, while the Cypriot government sees the potential wealth as a way to bring Turkish Cypriots closer to negotiating a solution to the division of the Mediterranean island.

“Our country is determined to continue defending the rights and interests of Turkish Cypriots and supporting the Turkish Cypriot side,” Aksoy said.

He said if the Greek Cypriot government adopted a constructive manner towards the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, the result could be a “win-win” solution.