In a defiant challenge to foreign companies that Cyprus’ government licensed to look for oil and gas in its Exclusive Economic Zone off the coast, Turkey said it would begin drilling near the same areas where it had sent warships to keep out any competitors.
Turkey has occupied the northern third of the island since an unlawful 1974 invasion and demanded a right for Turkish-Cypriots of any potentially lucrative resources that would be found – to which Cyprus agreed – but also to be a part of the licensing process.
Turkey will start drilling because the Cypriot government wouldn’t listen to Turkish demands to protect the rights of Turkish-Cypriots, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the newspaper Haaretz after meeting Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
“Our second platform is coming in February. We were going to send it to the Black Sea, now we are sending it to the Cyprus area,” Cavusoglu said. “Our drill ship Fatih is currently in the Alanya-1 area, its work there will be done in March. We are shifting that to the south too,” he added. He did not specify whether Turkey would drill for oil or natural gas.
Turkey sent the Fatih in October, 2018 to drill off the coast of Turkey’s southern Antalya province and had said a second ship that it purchased would operate in the Black Sea.
Keeping up the tension in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan noted his country’s military power after Cavusoglu said the drilling would begin.
“If you don’t have enough military, political and economic might, you should know that nobody will take you seriously,” Erdogan said during a visit to a military academy in Ankara. “And we saw this during the peace operation in Cyprus and the tension in the Aegean,” he said, referring to Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974, said Kathimerini.
Backing it up, Turkey again sent fighter jets into Greek airspace on Jan. 25, flying over three islets near Kastellorizo in the southeastern Aegean as Greek jets scrambled to intercept them.