Turkey has warned that foreign energy companies will never be permitted to carry out natural gas exploration inside Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), disputing the Republic’s rights in the area.
In a statement issued after Cyprus signed exploration agreements on Wednesday and Thursday, the Turkish foreign ministry said it would take all necessary measures to protect its rights and interests “in its continental shelf” as well as the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots.
“It will be recalled that in the past, we have also repeatedly drawn attention to the problematic nature of activities carried out by hydrocarbon companies in maritime areas over which the Turkish Cypriots have rights,” the statement said. “Furthermore, a significant segment of one of the relevant areas, namely block number six, falls within Turkey’s continental shelf. Foreign companies shall never, under any conditions, be permitted to carry out unauthorized hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities in our maritime jurisdiction areas.”
Ankara said cooperating with the Republic were disregarding the will of the Turkish Cypriots, the island’s other founding people.
“This stance will also be taken into consideration when evaluating their future involvement in joint energy projects with Turkey,” it said.
The Turkish foreign ministry also said it was worrying and unacceptable that the Republic persisted in acting as if it was “the sole owner of the Island and continues with its unilateral activities,” during a period when they should be displaying strong political will towards establishing a new partnership with the Turkish Cypriot people.
“Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side desire a negotiated settlement on the Island of Cyprus,” the ministry said. “The only way to utilize the Island’s natural resources prior to a comprehensive settlement, on the other hand, would be through arrangements for the joint exploitation of the resources with the consent of the Turkish Cypriot side and the fair sharing of potential revenues.”
In response, the Cypriot foreign ministry reiterated the Republic’s determination to continue to apply its policy on hydrocarbons “fully exercising its sovereignty and its sovereign rights.”
“The announcement and the threats included in it prove anew, Turkey’s disrespect, not only towards the Charter of the United Nations, but also conventional and customary international law, as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Seas, as well as the basic principles of behavior between civilized countries.”
Such threats undermined the negotiating process and raised more doubts regarding Turkey’s dedication to the talks, the ministry said.
“The government of the Republic of Cyprus has repeatedly assured that Turkish Cypriots will benefit from the exploitation of Cyprus natural resources as part of an agreed settlement.”