Greek Cyprus’ hydrocarbon bid ‘unacceptable’: Turkish Foreign Ministry
ANKARAThe Greek Cypriot administration’s exploration and exploitation contracts with international hydrocarbon companies and consortiums are “unacceptable,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said April 6.
“We find it as worrying as it is unacceptable that the Greek Cypriot side persists on acting as though it is the sole owner of the island and continues with its unilateral activities, particularly in a period when they should be displaying strong political will toward establishing a new partnership with Turkish Cypriot people,” the ministry said in a statement.
A delegation from Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum signed an agreement on April 5 with the Greek Cypriot administration to explore hydrocarbon in Block 10 in southern Cyprus.
The statement said it agreed with the Turkish Cypriot side’s concerns.
“We share the justified concerns and outrage felt by the Turkish Cypriot side,” it said.
“It will be recalled that in the past, we have also repeatedly drawn attention to the problematic nature of activities carried out by hydrocarbon companies in maritime areas over which the Turkish Cypriots have rights,” it added.
“Furthermore, a significant segment of one of the relevant areas, namely block number 6, falls within Turkey’s continental shelf. Foreign companies shall never, under any condition, be permitted to carry out unauthorized hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities in our maritime jurisdiction areas,” the statement said.
The agreement was signed while U.N.-mediated discussions were interrupted between the Turkish and Greek sides. The U.N. announced on April 4 that the Cyprus talks would resume April 11 after a two-month hiatus.
In February 2016, the Greek Cypriot administration unilaterally decided to launch a licensing round for a number of blocks on the offshore island.
In total, 12 exploration wells will be drilled in blocks 6, 8 and 10, Greek Cypriot Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said.
A consortium between ENI and Total won licensing for block 6. ENI was solely awarded block 8 while the ExxonMobil-Qatar Petroleum consortium was awarded block 10.
The statement said Turkey would continue to take all necessary measures to protect its rights and interests on its continental shelf as well as the rights and interests of Turkish Cyprus.
The status of the island remains unresolved in spite of a series of discussions led by the U.N. between the two sides.
In February, the Greek Cypriot assembly’s decision to introduce in schools the commemoration of a 1950 referendum on unification with Greece saw the discussions stall.
The Eastern Mediterranean Island was divided into a Turkish Cypriot state in the north and a Greek Cypriot administration in the south after Turkey initiated a military intervention following a Greek-inspired 1974 coup d’état.
Despite the disputed status, the Greek Cypriot administration continued to unilaterally open new tenders for hydrocarbon explorations without any collaboration with Turkish Cypriots.