The U.S. State Department, breaking from its usual support for Turkey, said it sides with Cyprus’ exploration for energy reserves off the coast and criticized as an act of provocation the harassment of a Norwegian-flagged vessel off the island by a Turkish warship.
The Norwegians were part of a group working with Cyprus to search for oil and gas when the gunship showed up as Turkey staked a claim in waters where it has no jurisdiction, Cypriot officials said.
“We support Cyprus’s right to explore for energy in its offshore areas,” State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki told a press briefing in Washington. But, with the U.S. tip-toeing around the issue, she said that any oil and gas resources “should be equitably shared between both communities,” even if they are found in waters that don’t belong to Turkey.
Referring to a visit to Cyprus by US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland earlier this week, Psaki said, “She conveyed it’s important to avoid actions that may increase tensions in the region.”