In a move likely to increase tension with relations already taut between the two sides of the divided island, the self-declared Turkish-Cypriot administration – unrecognized in the world outside Turkey – told the United Nations it would begin energy research in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the legitimate government.
The Turkish-occupied zone’s representative to the UN, in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Security Council Members said the hunt for oil and gas near waters where foreign energy companies licensed by the Cypriot government are already drilling will begin soon, conducted by the Turkish seismic research ship Barbaros.
According to a map published by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry “Areas F and G” where the research and drilling will be conducted are actually Cyprus’ SEZ parcels 1,2,8,9 and part of parcels 12 and13, said Kathimerini.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish-Cypriots on the occupied northern third shouldn’t have to settle for Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades’ agreeing to share potentially lucrative revenues with them and they want the right to license companies.
Erdogan had previously sent warships near the EEZ in a bid to keep out companies but succeeded only in driving off a vessel from the Italian company Eni, while the American giant ExxonMobil’s work has been unimpeded, leading to the company discovering a major gas field, a catalyst that could influence whether unity talks would begin again.
The last round collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they would never remove a 35,000-strong standing army and wanted the right to militarily intervene again when they wanted.
The island has been split since an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion that saw the international community look the other way and let Turkey seize the land outright.