Turkey protests oil moves by Greek Cypriots

Turkey has insisted that Turkish Cypriots have rights in the East Mediterranean region that cannot be ignored following Egypt and Lebanon's recent agreements with Greek Cypriots to delineate their borders and facilitate oil and gas exploration.

Uchenna Izundu
International Editor

LONDON, Feb. 8 -- Turkey has insisted that Turkish Cypriots have rights in the East Mediterranean region that cannot be ignored following Egypt and Lebanon's recent agreements with Greek Cypriots to delineate their borders and facilitate oil and gas exploration.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry warned, "Turkey is determined to protect its rights and interests in the east Mediterranean and will not permit the (Greek Cypriot) initiatives to erode these. We expect countries and companies thinking of carrying out exploration work for oil and natural gas based on invalid licenses that Greek Cyprus may try to hand out to consider the wishes of the Turkish Cypriots, the other nation on the island."

Cyprus's Minister of Foreign Affairs Yiorgos Lillikas criticized Turkey's approach as being "anachronistic." He said, "It is the exclusive sovereign right of the Cyprus Republic to sign agreements with neighboring states and to make use and take advantage of any resources it possesses either on land or at sea."

On Jan. 17 Lebanon and Cyprus agreed to delineate a subsea border to determine where each country can conduct petroleum exploration in their Exclusive Economic Zone. Cyprus, which plans to launch its first licensing round on Feb. 15 for 12 blocks, last year signed a similar agreement with Egypt to permit joint exploitation of potential offshore oil and gas fields between them (OGJ Online, Jan. 26, 2007).

In 1975, following a Turkish invasion, Cyprus was split into a Greek Cypriot south, whose government is internationally recognized, and a Turkish Cypriot north.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

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