Turkey warns Exxon drilling could change balance on Cyprus issue

Turkey said on Sunday it was repeating its warning to companies and countries over hydrocarbon exploration in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), suggesting that drilling by US giant ExxonMobil could change the delicate balance on the Cyprus issue.
In a statement, Ankara warned it would launch its drilling activities in areas where it had been licensed by the Turkish Cypriot authorities to do so. The Turkish Cypriot side lays claim to almost all of the blocks in Cyprus EEZ.
“ExxonMobil gas exploration in the so-called block 10 licensed by South Cyprus does not contribute to the stability of the country or the region and may change specific and delicate balances in relation to resolving the Cyprus issue,” the statement said.

“By saying that all the natural sources of energy around Cyprus are not only for the Greek Cypriot side, but for both sides, we have warned the Greek Cypriot administration to stop the unilateral exploration for hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

“We  reiterate our warning to the companies involved in these unilateral exploration and drilling.  “We remind them that sharing the natural resources of the island of Cyprus relates to the core of the Cyprus issue.”

“In addition to our own continental shelf, we will start carrying out activities in areas where the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has given (state-run oil company) Turk Petrolleri a licence.”

Ankara said it would continue to take the necessary diplomatic and political steps to protect the international rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot people, “who are the joint owners of the island”.

Earlier on Sunday, the Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign ministry’ issued a statement saying that the unilateral action of the Greek Cypriots in drilling for gas and its attempts to involve the US in the process threatened stability on the island and in the region.

According to the CNA, in an announcement, the ‘TRNC foreign ministry’ called on “all countries and companies involved in this issue to act with common sense, taking into account the realities on the island.”

It spoke of the violation of the rights of Turkish Cypriots, which was affecting “the future of our people”.

“There is no doubt that we will take the necessary steps to implement the rights” of the Turkish Cypriots,” the statement said, arguing that the Greek Cypriots were not ready to share the wealth of Cyprus with the Turkish Cypriots.

“The Greek Cypriot administration continues the unilateral and illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and ignoring the rights of Turkish Cypriots,” it added.

It also said the Greek Cypriot leadership, “which says it wants negotiations to continue from where they are left, has a serious inability to share the wealth of the island, which is a sine qua non in a federation.”

“The fact that there is no answer to all the calls we have made for the joint management of these resources and for cooperation between us will result in another lost chance,” it added.

The “foreign ministry” also said it was clear the Greek Cypriots were trying to include the US, Israel and Egypt in an alliance.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon was in Cyprus on Friday, days after ExxonMobil, an American company began drilling in block 10 of the island’s EEZ.

Referring to his meeting with Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis, Fannon said that they had talked about the opportunities for collaboration between the two countries. He also spoke of advancing the broader energy cooperation in the region.

Fannon also reiterated Washington’slong-standing position of recognising Cyprus’ right to develop resource wealth in its EEZ but also made it clear that the US position included the wealth being shared with all communities on the island equitably in the context of a comprehensive settlement.

Source: Cyprus Mail