With the Geneva peace conference on Cyprus confirmed for June 28, Turkey’s Energy Minister Berat Albayrak upped the ante with Nicosia on Friday, saying that Ankara intends to remain active with its research ships, not just within its own waters “but in those of Northern Cyprus” as well.
Albayrak made his comments on Friday during a visit to the seismic survey vessel Barbaros off the coast of Karpasia in the Turkish-held north of Cyprus, where he announced that Ankara plans to commence “drilling in the Mediterranean before the end of the year.”
A few hours after his remarks, Turkey issued a new navigational telex (navtex) reserving areas within Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) southwest of the town of Paphos, warning that on June 17 a “Turkish war ship will conduct dangerous operations and submarine activities.” In another navtex, Ankara announced a military exercise with live ammunition in the same area from June 14 to 17.
Turkey claims that a part of Cyprus’s EEZ belongs to its continental shelf and has repeatedly warned Nicosia not to proceed with gas exploration and drilling, accusing it of unilaterally exploiting its offshore energy deposits without the consent of the Turkish Cypriots. Nonetheless, the foreign energy companies prospecting for oil and gas in plots within Cyprus’s EEZ have reassured Nicosia that energy research will continue as planned.
At a reception hosted by the Embassy of Cyprus in Washington on Thursday, energy giant ExxonMobil said that its vision is for Cyprus to become a regional energy hub with export capabilities.