Erdogan warns firms not to drill in Cyprus


In the aftermath of last Friday’s collapse of talks to reunify Cyprus, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned energy companies on Monday not to take part in drilling off the island’s coast beginning this month, as they could “lose a friend like Turkey.”  

“It is impossible to appreciate that some energy companies are acting with, and becoming part of some irresponsible measures taken by Greek Cypriots. I want to remind them that they could lose a friend like Turkey,” Erdogan said, without, however, naming the companies. France’s Total won a license from Cyprus to drill offshore this year.

Cyprus said last month that drilling for gas will take place between July and October and, to that end, issued a maritime advisory. Turkey opposes the drilling, claiming that the island’s natural resources belong to both Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

“What we expect from anyone who takes sides in the developments in Cyprus is that they should refrain from steps that might pave the way for new tensions in the region,” he said. Meanwhile, Greece’s foreign minister, Nikos Kotzas, blamed Ankara for the breakdown in talks at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, saying that Athens could never sign on to Ankara having the right “enter Cyprus whenever they want.”

Kotzias said the leader of Turkish troops stationed on Cyprus was arrested along with 10 senior officers over last year’s botched coup. Turkey, Kotzias said, wanted this army to guarantee democracy and the coexistence of the two communities on the island.