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Turkey says to start controversial drilling for gas in East Mediterranean

Turkey says to start controversial drilling for gas in East Mediterranean

Turkey says to start controversial drilling for gas in East Mediterranean
September 04
05:53 2018

Turkey says it may begin drilling for gas in the Eastern Mediterranean this fall in reaction to the Greek Cyprus’s “unilateral” drilling in the disputed region.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made the remarks on Monday in a joint press conference with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Kudret Ozersay.

“The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has territorial waters and a continental shelf which Turkey would take all measures to protect,” Cavusoglu said, reiterating his country’s opposition to the Greek Cyprus’s drilling in areas which Turkey says belong to the Turkish Cyprus.

He said he would later on Tuesday meet his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias in Western Izmir to discuss the issue of Greek Cyprus and its “unilateral steps” regarding the gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean.

If the Greek Cypriot side continues taking unilateral steps, Turkey will start its own drilling activities, the Turkish FM warned.

The Turkish Cypriot foreign minister also warned that if Greek Cypriots would continue their unilateral drilling activities, Turkish Cypriots will also “start drilling soon” in accordance with the license it has already provided to Turkish Petroleum.

Back in February, the Turkish military prevented the Greek Cypriot government from exploring for oil and gas in the disputed region.

Turkey, which does not have diplomatic ties with the Greek Cyprus, has vowed to prevent what it sees as a unilateral move by Greek Cypriots to claim offshore resources. It says some areas of Cyprus’s offshore maritime zone fall under what Ankara calls the territory of the Turkish Cyprus.

The island has been divided into Turkish Cypriot-controlled northern and Greek Cypriot-controlled southern territories since a brief war in 1974, which saw Turkey intervene militarily in response to a military coup on the island, which was backed by the Athens government to annex Cyprus to Greece.

Greek Cypriots run the island’s internationally recognized government, while Turkish Cypriots have a breakaway state in the north — only recognized by Turkey — and say offshore resources belong to them, too.

The Greek Cypriot leader has said the reunification talks cannot resume as long as Turkey blocks foreign companies from drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus. He has accused Ankara of practicing “gunboat diplomacy.”

The last high-level talks for reunifying the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation collapsed last July. Failures in previous talks have increased tensions between Greece and Turkey — NATO allies, who have been at odds over the divided island.

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