Turkey Warns Foreign Diplomats to Stop Backing Cyprus Energy Drilling


FILE - An undated photo of the the Saipem 12000 drilling floater. (Saipem via AP)

Upset they are supporting Cyprus’ rights to have energy companies drill for oil and gas, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry warned Ambassadors of other countries on the island to stop after Israel and Egypt backed the exploration even if it meant military force.

“The remarks made by some Ambassadors during a recent conference in the Greek Cypriot Administration, in support of the unilateral hydrocarbon-related activities being conducted by the Greek Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean, are unwarranted,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said.

That was in reference to a July 25-27 Diaspora conference where Aksoy accused the legitimate government on the island of “disregarding the inalienable rights of Turkish Cypriots on natural resources,” echoing earlier demands they take part in the process allowing foreign energy companies to drill.

Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted that Turkish-Cypriots would not accept anything less than political equality in Cyprus.

“Greek Cypriots must stop acting like the sole owners of Cyprus. The fact that both sides on the island are politically equal will never change,” Cavusoglu wrote.

Aksoy did not name the diplomats in his statement, except to say that his country would “recommend to the representatives of the relevant countries that they do not exceed their authority,” but Turkish media said it also was a shot at the US Ambassador who also supported Cyprus’ rights in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that Turkey doesn’t fully recognize.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had sent warships into the waters to keep companies from exploring for oil and gas even though Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he’d be willing to share the revenues from potentially lucrative finds.

Anastasiades, addressed the conference where foreign ambassadors also took part in a round table discussion and talked about the energy exploration.

Israel’s Ambassador Sammy Ravel, according to the CNA News Agency, told the audience that he “hoped military force would not be necessary against Turkish provocations.”

Egyptian Ambassador Mai Taha Mohammed Khalil said, “We hope we don’t reach the point where we will have to use the military in the area,” while adding “we will provide any possible assistance to Cyprus.”

US Ambassador Kathleen Doherty noted the former US Secretary of State had gone to Ankara and told his counterpart that “Turkey’s behaviour was unacceptable.”

Greek Ambassador Elias Fotopoulos also spoke and said he was hopeful diplomacy would work and lead to a resumption of collapsed unity talks that fell apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkey said it would never remove an army from the northern third it has occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion and wanted the right to militarily intervene again.