Turkey upped the ante with Cyprus on Thursday, reiterating its warning that it will not accept “unilateral” actions by Nicosia with regard to gas exploration and exploitation off the island’s southern coast.
Ankara says that any deal signed by Nicosia regarding the exploration for gas reserves in plots south of the island constitutes a unilateral act.
“From now on we have to show that we will not accept unilateral acts,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
His comments follow the announcement by Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak that Turkey plans to perform deep-sea drilling and seismic surveys for oil and natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean as early as next week – sparking concern that they could be carried out within Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), where the island’s government announced on Tuesday it will conduct its own research.
Turkey believes a part of Cyprus’s EEZ belongs to its continental shelf. In what is seen as a bid to get the message across that it doesn’t recognize Cyprus’s exclusive rights to energy reserves within its EEZ, Turkey has intensified its military presence in an area stretching south from Rhodes to the coast of Paphos in Cyprus.
Meanwhile, authorities in the Turkish-occupied north of the island have issued three consecutive Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) reserving the entire northern side of the island, where Turkish military jets will hold exercises with live ammunition from Monday until April 26.