NICOSIA – Cypriot plans to drill for energy in its own waters has riled Turkey – which claims the seas around the island where it has occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion.
Turkey responded with a warning to stop – including against Greece, which supports Cyprus’ right to look for oil and gas in an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which Turkey said it owns.
A Greek diplomatic who was not identified told Kathimerini that, “It is an oxymoron, to say the least, that a country which threatens to declare war on Greece if our country exercises its legal rights, which on an almost daily basis violates the sovereignty and sovereign rights (of Greece] and of the Cyprus Republic, and which utters unacceptable and provocative statements and threats, at the same time accuses us of destabilizing the Eastern Mediterranean,” the source said.
“Our country will continue to act with the exclusive purpose of defending its national interests and of promoting security and stability in the wider region, guided by respect for international law and, in particular, the International Law of the Sea,” the source said, rejecting Turkey’s claims as “baseless.”
Turkey doesn’t recognize that law, the UN has refused to intervene and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ignored soft European Union sanctions and has been getting his way almost at will.
Turkey accused Greece and Cyprus of taking “steps that increase tensions,” threatening to intervene in any Cypriot action to drill in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In a statement, Turkish Foreign Ministry Tanju Bilgic spoke of an attempt to send research ships to the “Turkish continental shelf” and said Turkey wouldn’t allow it, in an unveiled threat.
Bilgic said that Turkey “will continue to give answers” if Cyprus starts drilling.
The Nautical Geo, a Greek-Cypriot research vessel under the Maltese flag, entered block 1 within Cyprus’ EEZ, the biggest part of which lies south of Cyprus’ southern Limassol district.
The ship is set to conduct seismic surveys in line with a navigational telex (NAVTEX) issued by Cyprus, which could set up a showdown with Turkey and raise the states across the region as well.
“Turkey supports energy projects that will enhance cooperation among the countries in the region. However, these projects should not ignore the rights and interests of Turkey and Turkish-Cypriots, and they should be inclusive,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said.