Turkey has said that it will continue with its gas exploration activities off Cyprus, despite threats from South Cyprus to block Turkey’s current EU accession talks in an effort to bring a halt to the operations, Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ reports.
“The Barbaros ship will continue to do its seismic studies [off Cyprus] … nobody should try to create a crisis,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told a news conference after holding a briefing meeting with Energy Minister Taner Yıldız.
“We have the right to conduct seismic studies there, according to agreements signed between Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus [KKTC]. We will always use this right,” Davutoğlu said.
Greek Cypriot authorities said on 21st October that Turkish seismic vessel ‘Barbaros’ entered their exclusive economic zone and intended to stay in the area according to a maritime advisory issued in early October.
Nicosia is unhappy that Ankara is searching for oil and gas in the same region where the Cypriot government has already licensed exploratory drills in an exclusive economic zone.
Earlier this month Greek Cypriot President Anastasiades walked away from the talks launched in February just a few days ahead of a scheduled meeting with Turkish Cypriot President Dervis Eroğlu.
Ankara disputes South Cyprus’ claims to the sea areas off the island’s south and south-east coasts that are rich in natural gas reserves, demanding an equal share of resources between the two governments of the divided island.
Davutoğlu repeated Ankara’s call for a fair share and expressed willingness to seek a solution on such a basis.
“If we are going to agree on a solution, we should sit down at the table as soon as possible with our neighbour and friend Greece, Britain and the international community as guarantors and settle this issue. And these resources shall be used as resources of the unified Cyprus state. But if, they say, ‘These resources belong to us and the north belongs to you,’ then we should seek alternative solutions together,” he said.
“You can’t encourage deadlock, pull out of political negotiations, start having other talks, blackmail Turkey and hold Turkey responsible for all of this. It is not an acceptable situation,” Davutoğlu added.