Turkey continues with its threats to Cyprus over offshore gas exploration

The Cypriot government said on Wednesday it would not be dragged into the game of tension played by Turkey, as Ankara warned it would not allow any activity in the eastern Mediterranean without its involvement.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said Turkey was trying to create a climate of tension in the region but Cyprus will not be dragged into it and will continue to implement its energy policies based on international law.

“Many of the actions carried out by Turkey are illegal, (and) in violation of international law, but by no means will we join this artificial climate of tension that wants to give the false impression of the existence of differences or disputes,” Prodromou said. “There is no dispute in the seas of Cyprus; the Republic of Cyprus has an exclusive economic zone that is internationally recognised by the Law of the Sea and other states.”

Earlier, the Turkish defence minister said Ankara will not allow Greece to interfere in its activities in the eastern Mediterranean, a few days after the country complained that a Greek frigate had harassed a Turkish energy exploration ship in the region.

The issue of energy exploration in the region, along with a dispute over Greece’s maritime borders, have revived tensions between the Nato allies who are separated by the Aegean Sea.

Turkey, Greece and the Republic of Cyprus have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean.

“Our warships are providing the necessary protection in the region. We will never tolerate new harassment,” Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency in an interview broadcast live on Wednesday.

He said no project was possible in the eastern Mediterranean without the involvement of Turkey and northern Cyprus.

Anadolu reported earlier that the Turkish ship Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha was carrying out seismic research in the region last week when it was harassed by a Greek frigate until the Turkish navy intervened.

A Greek defence source denied there was an incident but said the Greeks were monitoring the Turkish ship’s activity.

Separately, Turkey warned Greece on Tuesday it would not tolerate a shift in Greece’s maritime border, drawing a sharp rebuke from Athens that it would decide when and how it exercises its sovereign rights.

The statements from both sides came a few days after Greece’s former foreign minister said Greece planned to extend its territorial waters from six to 12 miles to the west of the country. Turkey is situated to the east of Greece.

“We have (taken) all kinds of measures. I want everyone to know that we will not tolerate a fait accompli of any sort on this subject,” Akar said.

“We are in favour of solving problems with talks and peaceful methods before they turn into a hot conflict in any way,” he added.

Source: Cyprus Mail