Turkish Cypriots could launch their own exploration efforts, threatening to complicate an already-fraught situation in the eastern Mediterranean.
In an interview with Reuters, Turkish Cypriot official Kudret Ozersay said if joint energy exploration with both communities in Cyprus was not possible, the Turkish zone would go it alone.
Currently, the Republic of Cyprus is leasing out blocks at sea for oil and gas exploration. As North Cyprus is unrecognized, international energy firms do business with the Greek-Cypriot government.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously warned that energy exploration can only take place with the consent of Turkish Cypriots.
“Either we will do it together – by discussing, agreeing and moving together – or things will stop, or, we (Turkish Cypriots) will do the same thing: we will start exploiting and drilling as well,” Ozersay was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Turkish warships have already forced Italian energy giant ENI to pull a drill ship from the region. The U.S. also recently denied claims it was sending further forces to the region to shadow ExxonMobil research vessels.