Turkey’s Erdoğan says French president has no right to speak about Cyprus
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday said he warned his French counterpart not to express opinions over the gas standoff in Cyprus, news site HaberTürk reported.
"I told him: 'You cannot speak about Cyprus. I can speak, Greece can speak, Britain can speak and the EU (European Union) can speak, but you cannot speak',” Erdoğan reported telling France's Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Japan on Sunday.
Last month, Macron called on Turkey to halt what he called Turkey’s illegal activities in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in relation to ongoing tensions in the eastern Mediterranean over hydrocarbon resources.
Following his French counterpart's comments, Erdoğan at the time said France had no right to speak on affairs regarding Cyprus.
The struggle for rich gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has been fuelling tension between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece. European Union member states and U.S. officials have objected to Turkey's increasing drilling efforts in the region.
Energy giants Total of France and Italy's ENI are heavily involved in exploring for oil and gas off Cyprus through deals with the Greek Cypriot administration, as is ExxonMobil of the United States.
Turkey objects to Greek and Greek Cypriot activities in the EEZ claimed by the Greek Cypriot administration. Ankara argues that the Greek Cypriot EEZ infringes on Turkey's own continental shelf, and Athens and Nicosia violate the rights of Turkish Cypriots.
Meanwhile, Greek and Greek Cypriot authorities have repeatedly said Turkey is violating international law with its claims and drilling activity near the divided island. Tensions have flared in recent months as the drilling and exploration have progressed and the EU has hinted at sanctions for Turkey.
Last month Cyprus issued arrest warrants for 25 people including crew assisting the Turkish drilling vessel Fatih and officials at firms partnered with the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation.
Despite calls to defuse tensions, Turkey announced that it would send a second vessel to begin drilling off Cyprus this month.