Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s comments regarding natural gas exploration off Cyprus do not contribute to the creation of a suitable climate for resuming reunification talks, the government said on Friday.
“At a time when … an effort is afoot to create the conditions and a suitable climate for the resumption of substantive talks, yesterday’s (Thursday’s) comments by the Turkish president not only fail to contribute towards this direction, but they poison the atmosphere, attempting to create a negative climate,” government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said in a statement.
“We hope Turkey, through certain actions, will allow the resumption of substantive talks from where they had been left off at Crans-Montana (Switzerland in 2017), refraining from statements and moves that do not contribute towards this direction.”
On Thursday, Erdogan said Ankara was determined to continue exploring for natural gas and oil in the eastern Mediterranean, warning that consequences would befall ‘those who refuse to learn their lesson’.
“No project can be realised if Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus are not involved,” Erdogan said at a press conference in Ankara.
His remarks came after a meeting with the Turkish Cypriot ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar.
“We will continue to defend the rights of Turkish Cypriots with the same dedication,” the Turkish leader said, adding that problems in the region are caused by the “irreconcilable attitudes of the Greek Cypriots”.
Turkey has despatched two drillships to waters off Cyprus. The first, the Fatih, reportedly began drilling in early May in an area some 75 kilometres off the island’s western coast. The second vessel, the Yavuz, is currently located to the east of the island off the Karpas Peninsula.
Turkey contests Cyprus’ right to explore and develop offshore hydrocarbons, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.