Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said international companies drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus are within his country’s continental shelf, turning up the heat on them and the legitimate government to stop.
In an interview with Kathimerini he said that Turkey “is prepared to take all necessary measures” to protect its rights, and those of the Turkish Cypriots, in the eastern Mediterranean after previously demanding a share of the revenues from any findings.
Cavusoglu claimed that plot 6 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) where hydrocarbon explorations are already taking place, belongs to Turkey, not Cyprus.
“It goes without saying that we will never allow unauthorized hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities on our continental shelf,” he said and accused the Cypriots of conducting “unilateral hydrocarbon activities in the eastern Mediterranean.”
“Turkish Cypriots, as co-owners of the island, have inalienable rights to the natural resources around it,” he said.
At the end of January, Turkey issued a NAVTEX navigational warning that its Navy will occupy a large part of the sea area off Cyprus where the legitimate government has given international companies licenses to drill for oil and gas.
Facing challenges from Turkey, which has unlawfully occupied the northern third of the island since a 1974 invasion, Cyprus had moved ahead to set the rest of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), trying to re-establish borders in the seas where it has licensed international companies to drill for oil and gas.
Cyprus will delineate the EEZ that Turkey has violated, including the north and western part, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said, calling on Greece to offer its “observations” as the Cypriot zones abut Greece’s EEZ, Kathimerini said in a report.
Turkey, which doesn’t recognize Cyprus nor laws of the sea and has demanded a share of any potentially lucrative finds of energy off the coast, reserved for military training an area within 30 kilometers (18.64 miles) of the location of an upcoming gas drill in Cyprus’ offshore block 3, the Cyprus Mail said.
Cavusoglu also said there is no sea border between Greece and Cyprus and demanded Turkey and Greece resolve disputes in the Aegean where tension has been ramped up after a Turkish Presidential Advisor said any Greek official who stepped foot on the disputed rocky islet of Imia, over which the countries nearly went to war in 1996, would have his legs broken.
The renewed threats came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Athens in December to meet Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a bid to to ease tensions that instead have increased and ahead of the upcoming High Level Council of Cooperation of Greece and Turkey in Thessaloniki.
“I invite our Greek friends to focus first on finding a comprehensive just and lasting solution to the Aegean dispute, instead of adding more problems to the already existing catalogue,” he said.