NEWS

Ankara proposes private firm to seek natural gas off Cyprus

Ankara on Tuesday defended the continued presence of a Turkish vessel in Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and proposed the foundation of a private company to undertake oil and gas drilling activities in the eastern Aegean until a solution is found to the Cyprus problem.

“Since the states want to be counter to each other until a resolution is reached, then let a private company be founded and perform searches,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted as telling Turkish MPs.

He made it clear that Ankara would not change tactics in the region. “When they drill, we send a ship,” he said. “If they stop it, we will also stop it.”

Later in the day, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkey’s National Assembly that Ankara “would never allow” Greek Cypriots to form a “monopoly on natural gas.” “The Mediterranean is our sea too. No one can shut us out of the Mediterranean,” he added. His comments came just 10 days before he is due in Athens on an official visit.

Meanwhile, Cyprus government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides reiterated that Nicosia will not agree to discuss the issue of natural gas before stalled peace talks resume and a settlement is found.