ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey accused Cyprus of increasing tension in the Eastern Mediterranean after a consortium of Italian and French energy companies found more natural gas off the island earlier this week.
Cyprus’s hydrocarbon activities “have been carried out unilaterally,” and “violate the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, who are one of the co-owners of all natural resources of the island,” Turkish foreign ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic said.
“These activities also increase the tension, and threaten peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said in a statement, adding that Turkey “would not allow hydrocarbon exploration or exploitation activities in its continental shelf without consent.”
A consortium of Italy’s Eni and France’s TotalEnergies found more natural gas off Cyprus, the country’s energy ministry said on Wednesday.
Cyprus’s exploration programme is hotly disputed by Turkey, which cites overlapping jurisdictions either on its own continental shelf or in waters of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in north Cyprus, which is recognised only by Turkey.
Cyprus’s internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government, viewed as representing the whole island, dismisses those claims.
The island of Cyprus was split after a 1974 Turkish invasion spurred by a brief coup engineered by the military then ruling Greece. Turkey does not recognise Cyprus’s Greek government. Attempts over the years to broker peace between the two sides have failed.