In Cyprus the start of exploratory offshore drilling for gas by the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government has escalated a row with Ankara.
It has been confirmed the process has begun. An Israeli firm has an option to join US firm Noble Energy in the project which could further heighten the tensions. For the moment Cyprus remains tight lipped.
“The government will make announcements on the drilling when it considers it necessary to do so. Responsibility, low profile and confidentiality, are important, particularly at this critical juncture,” said Cyprus government spokesman Christos Christofidis.
Now Turkey has responded saying it could start drilling in agreement with Northern Cyprus and threatened to give naval escorts to its exploration vessels. Taner Yildiz, Turkey’s energy minister made clear his government’s stance on the matter.
“The Greek Cypriots are acting against international law. An exclusive economic zone has not been determined yet. So with Israel, or another state, Greek Cypriots have no right to behave independently. This is a provocative action. Drilling in the sea could damage long-running unification talks,” he said.
The EU has called on both countries to show restraint on the row and work instead on solving the dispute over breakaway Northern Cyprus.