Turkey to launch exploration for natural resources in areas of Turkish Cyprus
“We will start activities in the areas licensed by the Turkish Cypriots to Turkish Petroleum, in addition to our continental shelf,” Aksoy said in a written statement responding to a question regarding the commencement of operations by the American company ExxonMobil in the so-called Block 10 area off the island upon a license given by the Greek Cypriots.
Turkey warned that drilling by the oil company in the eastern Mediterranean would not be conducive to regional stability.
“They may also change certain sensitive balances with regard to the resolution of the problem,” Aksoy said.
Turkey has consistently contested Greek Cyprus’ unilateral drilling activity in the eastern Mediterranean on the grounds that Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.
Aksoy warned companies involved in the unilateral exploration and exploitation activities of the Greek Cypriots.
Turkey, as in the past, will continue to take the necessary diplomatic and political steps in coordination with Turkish Cyprus to protect “the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot people” that he described as “the equal owners of the island,” Aksoy said.
They have long been intensifying unilateral efforts to explore and drill hydrocarbon reserves off the island, even though resources also belong to Turkish Cyprus and attempts for reunification of the island have not yet produced results.
Turkey and Greek Cyprus have overlapping claims of marine jurisdiction and both plan to carry out exploratory drilling this year.
Last month, Turkey complained that a Greek frigate had hounded a Turkish exploration ship west of Cyprus. Greece denied the charges and Cyprus accused Turkey of stirring tension.
The status of the island of Cyprus remains unresolved, despite a series of United Nations-mediated discussions between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot administration.
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 latest initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom collapsing in 2017.
However, Greek Cyprus gives the justification that they are the legal representative of the island in the international arena. In total, 12 exploration wells will be drilled in blocks 6, 8 and 10, Greek Cypriot Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said in 2017.
Some regions Greek Cyprus had announced it would explore reserves are claimed by Turkey to be part of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).