February 27, 2024

Drilling Off Cyprus Will Proceed Despite Warnings From Turkey

Turkey called the wells an act of provocation, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised statement that Turkish “frigates, gunboats and its air force will constantly monitor developments in the area.” He later added that Turkey would start its own seismic exploration program in the area, the site of major natural gas deposits claimed largely by Israel.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 into an internationally accepted Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north that is recognized only by Turkey. While the Greek Cypriots say the drilling is taking place south of the island, in their exclusive economic zone, Turkish officials do not accept the Greek Cypriots’ claims to the area.

“We have different attitudes for the region that they have declared as an exclusive economic region,” Mr. Erdogan said. “This is a disputed exclusive economic region, and we have earlier conveyed to them that taking such a step in this disputed region would be incorrect.”

This is the second time recently that Mr. Erdogan has vowed to send the Turkish Navy into an international dispute. Earlier this month, he said that Turkish naval vessels would escort aid ships headed to Gaza to avoid a repetition of a confrontation last year, when eight Turks and one Turkish-American were killed by Israeli commandos.

Turkey claims that the natural resources around Cyprus belong to both the Turkish and Greek sectors, and that any development projects should be shelved until the dispute over the political status of the island is resolved.

Prime Minister Erdogan said the Turkish Petroleum Company would soon begin exploring for hydrocarbon reserves off northern Cyprus, in line with a continental shelf agreement between Ankara and the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state.

Cyprus is a member of the European Union, which on Monday urged the parties to focus on a comprehensive solution to the island’s political dispute, the Anatolian Agency reported.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/20/world/europe/turkey-calls-cyprus-gas-drilling-a-provocation.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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