Turkey warns Greek Cypriots over new oil exploration deals

Turkish Foreign Ministry on Thursday criticised the Greek Cyprus for signing agreements with international companies for off-shore hydrocarbon exploration in what Ankara considers to be its own continental shelf.

A consortium of France’s Total and Italy’s Eni on Wednesday has been licenced to explore for oil and gas in a new area off Cyprus’s southern coast. But Turkish Foreign Ministry said a part of the agreed area lies on its continental shelf, and the deal was an infringement by Greek Cypriot administration (GCA) on the rights of Turkish Cypriots.

"We continue our strong warning that the unilateral acts of GCA, which aim at usurping the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, do not contribute to peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean," the spokesman for the ministry, Hami Aksoy, said in a written statement.

In the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey is at odds with Cyprus and Greece over the potentially rich hydrocarbon reserves in the region. Ankara says the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot enclave in the north of the island, which only it recognises, has a right to a share in the reserves, while the Cypriot government says any proceeds from gas drilling will be shared fairly after a peace deal is established.