Turkey slams Israeli, Egyptian ambassadors over support for unilateral Cyprus gas exploration

The Turkish Foreign Ministry slammed the Israeli and Egyptian ambassadors accredited to the Republic of  Cyprus for supporting the Greek side’s unilateral hydrocarbon exploration in the eastern Mediterranean at a recent conference, urging the diplomats “not to exceed their authorities.”

The ambassadors of both countries threatened Turkey last week with “military intervention,” with Israeli ambassador Sammy Revel saying “I hope Israel will not have to carry out a military intervention against Turkey” over Turkey’s reaction against south Cyprus’ unilateral gas exploration activities.

Egyptian ambassador Mai Taha Muhammad also threatened to use military force against Turkey “if needed.”

U.S. ambassador Cathleen Doherty also voiced support for both of the diplomats, claiming that Turkey’s attitude over the matter was “unacceptable.”

Calling the ambassadors’ remarks, which supported the unilateral drilling being conducted by the Greek Cypriots in the Mediterranean, “unwarranted”, the ministry said it was “unacceptable” that the Greek Cypriot side continued to act as it was “the sole owner of the Island” all the while “a just and lasting settlement” remains to be achieved.

“With these activities, the Greek Cypriot side disregards the inalienable rights on natural resources of the Turkish Cypriots, who are the island’s co-owners,” he added.

Aksoy said this attitude is far removed from any spirit of compromise and demonstrates that the Greek Cypriot administration has failed to grasp the win-win potential for economic cooperation that could result from a settlement that both the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey have been making the “utmost” effort to achieve.

He said Turkey is determined to protect the rights and interests of Turkish Cypriots and to continue supporting them.

Aksoy added that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, at a joint press conference last week during his visit to the TRNC with Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı, once again openly stressed Turkey’s determination to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people.

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 U.K., collapsing in 2017.

The government in the south of the island has commissioned international energy giants like Italian ENI and French Total for hydrocarbon exploration.