In what’s become almost a mantra it’s repeated so much, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has again said his country will forge ahead with drilling for energy in Cyprus’ sovereign waters, essentially daring anyone to stop him.
Two Turkish drillships are in a part of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in defiance of soft European Union sanctions, the Cypriot government, Greece and warnings from the United States to cease and desist.
Turkish vessels are continuing their seismic research and activities in the region, he said ina speech in Rizounta in Turkey’s Rize province, said Kathimerini.. “We reached the verge of vessels colliding and we did not back down in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Erdogan said, apparently referring to an incident between French and Turkish ships in the area earlier.
At the time, Erdogan had ripped French President Emmanuel Macron, saying France had no rights in the Aegean or East Mediterranean although the French energy company Total is one of the foreign companies licensed by the legitimate government to hunt for oil and gas.
“When we find oil or natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean, all those who oppose us now will form a line outside our door,” he said. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said any potentially lucrative revenues from energy would be shared with Turkish-Cypriots occupying the northern third since an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion.
But that wasn’t enough for Erdogan, who is at odds with the EU, nor Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci who said they want their side to take part in the licensing procedure among other demands.
Energy has become a catalyst in the failed hopes to reunify the island with the last round of talks falling apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Erdogan and Akinci said they would never remove a 35,000-strong standing army in the occupied land and wanted the right to militarily intervene when they wanted.
The clash over drilling has led to fears there could be a conflict, accidental or otherwise with uncertainty whether the EU, to which the legitimate government of Cyprus belongs, or the US would come to Cyprus’ aid or let the island be taken.