Turkey announces plan to send drill ships to Cyprus

‘Tensions flare’ as Turkish president moves to stop Greek Cypriots exploiting natural gas reserves

(Image credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey’s president has announced that the country will send a ship to Cyprus to begin exploratory gas drilling, just days after ExxonMobil, a US energy company, sent its own survey vessels to the region.

“As tensions flare” over the resources from the ethnically divided island, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said he “will not tolerate” reserves being used by Greek Cypriots while his country is involved with other military conflicts, The Guardian reports.

“Hopefully it has been instructive for some who saw an opportunity to act unilaterally when Turkey is engaged in anti-terrorism operations elsewhere,” Erdogan said.

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He said the self-proclaimed Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus should have a right to the island’s natural resources adding that the areas designated for drilling fall under Ankara’s maritime jurisdiction.

Turkish warships were ordered to stop any drilling attempts made by ENI, an Italian energy company that had been commissioned by Cyprus’s government – in what was considered “a brazen act of brinkmanship”.

Erdogan said the Turkish warships that tried to prevent the ship from drilling “served as a lesson to some”, the Associated Press reports.

“Optimism had mounted over the east Mediterranean’s potential as a gas-producing hub after geological surveys pointed to vast reserves around Cyprus,” says The Guardian. The resources have the potential to decrease Europe’s – and Turkey’s – energy dependence on Russia.

Four foreign energy firms have so far been licensed to survey for oil and gas in areas off Cyprus’ southern coast.

Cypriot government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said their strategy “is to keep calm and go on.

“We cannot accept Turkey interfering and creating problems in what, as underlined by the EU, is a sovereign right to exploit our natural wealth.”

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