Turkey expresses new threats against Cyprus over gas exploration



Ankara has expressed new threats against Cyprus regarding hydrocarbon exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

"We will not allow any foreign country, company or ship to carry out oil exploration in our waters without a license," Ankara's Foreign Minister said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Nicosia invited oil companies to bid on a “license” to explore an area off the southern coast of Cyprus, continuing unilateral actions first undertaken in February 2016 when the administration launched a licensing round to commence drilling for offshore hydrocarbon reserves.

In a statement, the Turkish foreign ministry said the "Greek Cypriot administration's activities disregard the inalienable rights to natural resources of the Turkish Cypriot people, who are the co-owners of the island.”

"We are concerned that the Greek Cypriot administration has decided to invite international companies to the unilaterally delimited so-called license area by ignoring Turkish Cypriots' rights," the statement said.

"This attitude of the Greek Cypriot side, which does not shrink from irresponsibly jeopardising the security and stability of the Eastern Mediterranean region, is actually the fundamental reason behind the failure of the Cyprus settlement negotiations to produce an outcome for the past half-century," the ministry added.

The statement also said the Greek Cypriot administration’s activities also violate Turkey's rights to the continental shelf in the region under international law. Major parts of the Greek Cypriot "license" areas lie within the boundaries of  Turkey's Eastern Mediterranean region, it said.

"We have no comment" on the statement of the Turkish Foreign Ministry in connection with the investigation of hydrocarbons and the authorisation of the plot 7 of the Cypriot EEZ," said government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou.

Asked by the press to comment on the statement issued by Ankara, Mr. Prodromou said that "the Republic of Cyprus is proceeding normally with its energy program under international law and in cooperation with the companies which it has contracted."