Turkey set to begin oil and gas drilling off Cyprus

Turkey set to begin oil and gas drilling off Cyprus

Turkey set to begin oil and gas drilling off Cyprus

Turkey is about to start offshore drilling with two vessels around the island of Cyprus, Turkish foreign minister said on Feb. 21.

“Let those who come to the region from far away, and their companies, see that nothing can be done in that region without us. Nothing at all can be done in the Mediterranean without Turkey, we will not allow that,” Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told at an event gathering business people in Turkey’s western Aydın province.

The natural resources in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean Seas as well as Cyprus are “strategic goals and national issues” for Turkey.

About Turkey-Russia relations, Çavuşoğlu said although Western countries criticized Turkey’s good relations with Russia, “most of those NATO member countries have better relations with Russia.”

The minister described Western countries’ view on Turkey-Russia ties as “double standard.”

“Today we are supplying 50 percent of our gas need from Russia. Some of the European countries are providing 80-90 percent [of it]. This is the reason why [U.S. President Donald] Trump has been recently criticizing Germany. It is okay when you take it, but it turns out to be a problem when Turkey builds strategic relations or Turkish Stream,” he said.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island’s Turks and Ankara’s intervention as a guarantor power.

It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the collapse of a 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.

Turkey launched its first drillship in the east Mediterranean on Oct. 31, 2018. The drillship “Fatih” (Conquerer in English) —named after Ottoman Sultan Mehmed, who conquered Istanbul— began exploratory drilling off Antalya in the east of the unilaterally declared Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus.

East Mediterranean,