Statements from the north that Turkey would shortly be sending its first drilling ship to the eastern Mediterranean to explore for oil and gas were slammed on the Greek Cypriot side on Tuesday.
Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak had said a ship would be sent “as soon as possible”.
Ankara had already undertaken oil and gas exploration using two seismic ships, but the vessel to be sent would be the country’s first active drillship, he said.
The South Korean vessel was built in 2011. It is 229-metres long and is capable of drilling to a maximum depth of 12,190 metres.
Spokesman for Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, Baris Burcu compounded the issue by saying this would be the natural outcome of the developments taking place in the area.
Burcu, who issued a written statement, claimed the “insistence of President Anastasiades in his wrong attitude which also sabotages the development of Turkish-Greek relations and his latest statement that they will carry out the so called Exclusive Economic Zone coordination assessment work with Greece in the marine spaces in the north of Cyprus will lead the island and the region to new tensions”.
He added that such “irresponsible and unilateral initiatives of the Greek Cypriot administration, either because of the elections or for other reasons can cause damages that will not be possible to reverse”.
Akinci commented on Tuesday that the region of the eastern Mediterranean should be transformed into a region of cooperation rather than an area of tensions. He also referred to the explorations by the Republic, calling them unilateral and without the participation of Turkish Cypriots.
Opposition Akel said on Tuesday that Cyprus had a sovereign right to investigate and drill in its EEZ and this was recognised by the entire international community.
The party described Burcu’s statement as “unfortunate” and said they further exacerbated the already tense climate created after the sinking of the Cyprus talks in Crans-Montana last July.
The Green Party said Burcu’s statements showed the true intentions of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, which was none other than to become a satellite of Turkey, while the Citizens Alliance said Turkey should not be allowed to interfere with the rights of the Republic to exploit its natural resources.