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Politics

Turkey Says Cyprus’ Licensing Foreign Firms Energy Hunt Provocative

December 27, 2022

NICOSIA – Licenses given by Cyprus for a group of Italian and French companies to look for oil and gas off shore violates the rights of Turkish-Cypriots occupying the northern third of the island, Turkey said.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic said the Turkish-Cypriots “are one of the co-owners of all natural resources on the island,” said the news agency Reuters in a report.

He didn’t mention that Turkey is drilling already for oil and gas in parts of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) it doesn’t recognize, ignoring soft sanctions from the European Union.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, whose government is a member of the EU that Turkey has fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005, had offered 30 percent of potentially lucrative assets from any findings to Turkish-Cypriots but they refused, wanting a hand in the licensing.

“These activities also increase the tension, and threaten peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean,” added Bilgic, saying that Turkey “would not allow hydrocarbon exploration or exploitation activities in its continental shelf without consent,” but didn’t say what would happen over it.

That came after the consortium of Italy’s Eni and France’s TotalEnergies found more natural gas off Cyprus, the country’s Energy Ministry said. An Eni ship previously had been driven away by Turkish warships.

Turkey’s refusal to stop drilling – along with keeping 35,000 soldiers on the occupied side and wanting the right of further military intervention – was one of the reasons Anastasiades cited for the failure of reunification talks, the last attempt falling apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.

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