Turkey May Have Started Drilling in Disputed Gas Deposit near Cyprus, Report Says
Ankara remains unyielding in the face of potential EU sanctions over the Cyrpus EEZ natural gas dispute.
Turkey might already have begun drilling in a huge natural gas deposit near EU member state Cyrpus, according to a report in a Cypriot newspaper citing a “reliable” EU source in Brussels.
The dispute over the oil and natural gas deposit near Cyprus has worsened the relations between the European Union and Turkey, which says it is defending claims of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a breakaway Turkish-populated part of the island whose independence has been recognized by Ankara only.
An EU source from Brussels said that there is talk of “successful drilling” by the Turkish vessel “Fatih”, which is located off Paphou, and there has been reference to a deposit estimated to be 170 billion cubic meters, reports Cypriot daily Fileleftheros as cited by The Greek Reporter.
The report has not been confirmed by the government of the Republic of Cyprus in Nicosia.
Regardless of whether Turkish vessels have already begun the actual drilling or not, it is emphasized that Turkey’s government appears fully resolve to go ahead with the process in the disputed exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around the island of Cyrpus in the Eastern Mediterranean.
According to the press in Cyprus and Greece, the Turkish position has been left unchanged by pressure from the EU, which has deemed Ankara’s exploration of the natural gas deposit “illegal”.
Reports in the Greek-language press also connect the developments around Turkey’s exploration of the natural gas deposits off the coast of Cyrpus with developments around Ankara’s purchase of an S-400 missile system from Russia.
Because of Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian missile system, Turkey’s NATO ally the United States, has warned Ankara it is going to face severe consequences.
According to unverified reports in the Greek-language media, Turkey, which is already receiving from Russia components of the S-400 missile system, might move parts of it to the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, despite provisions in the agreement with Moscow that the system would be installed in Turkey.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged the Greek Cypriot government to accept a cooperation plan on drilling in the huge natural gas deposit in the island’s EEZ.
Turkey is determined to continue drilling for gas in waters off Cyprus despite opposition from the Greek Cypriot government and the European Union, Cavusoglu told the Kibris Postasi (Cyprus Post) newspaper on Sunday.
He explicitly stated that the Turkish vessels were carrying out exploration in areas where they had been licensed by the authorities of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
The discovery of gas in the Eastern Mediterranean has complicated attempts to reunify the island of Cyrpus which has been divided into a Greek and a Turkish part for 45 years now, since 1974.
Turkey’s deployment of two ships to search for oil and gas has led the EU to threaten sanctions over Ankara’s “unacceptable escalation” of the dispute.
Besides defending the interests of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Ankara also argues that waters around the island of Cyprus lie on the Turkish continental shelf anyway.
(Banner image: The Cyprus Mail)