Turkey will start drilling for oil and gas in the Mediterranean before the end of the summer, according to comments Friday by the country’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak.
The Turkish minister, who is also the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, added that “great efforts” are being made to “ensure there is no letup in this momentum.”
His statements come as no surprise in Greece as Ankara has already purchased a drillship. However, Albayrak’s comments are also being taken with a grain of salt, given that the neighboring country is heading for elections on June 24.
Turkey has maintained it will not allow the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus to drill for gas in its exclusive economic zone, saying the Turkish Cypriots must also be included in the process. Furthermore, it claims that parts of the island’s EEZ are disputed, and it remains to be seen where exactly Turkey plans to drill in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Albayrak also said that the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) would be launched on June 12.
In another controversial move, Turkey has reserved an area in the Aegean for a search and rescue exercise which will, controversially, include a vessel from the unrecognized entity in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos came under opposition fire during a debate at an armament programs committee Friday for bypassing Parliament over a government deal with the US to upgrade 85 F-16 fighter jets.
New Democracy and the Democratic Coalition accused the minister of failing to request Parliament’s approval before discussing the agreement at the country’s top decision-making body on foreign affairs and defense matters, KYSEA, as required by law. KYSEA gave the green light for the deal, which will cost about 1.2 billion euros, on April 28.
“ND notes that, until today, we have not been given adequate explanations about the details of the agreement,” party MP Vassilis Kikilias said. Democratic Left leader Thanasis Theoharopoulos said his party was concerned about procedural irregularities and not the substance of the deal.
SYRIZA MP Symeon Ballis, who presided over the committee, attributed the bypassing of official procedure to the tight deadline set for Greece to respond.