Cyprus-Greece-Israel Energy Talks Over Turkish Provocations

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, FILE)

With Turkey in economic crisis and worries about challenges to energy development plans in the Middle East to the European Union, the foreign ministers of Greece and Cyprus will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sept. 13 in Jerusalem, earlier than expected.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his Cypriot counterpart, Nikos Christodoulides will talk to Netanyahu, who is also Foreign Minister of Israel, about Turkey’s blockade off Cyprus where it’s trying to keep foreign energy companies from drilling for oil and gas.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who doesn’t recognize Cyprus – a member of the Europea Union he wants to join – said unless Turkish-Cypriots are included in plans for energy exploration that they will authorize companies to do it too, although none are interested so far.

In July, 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 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.

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.”