US urges calm as Ankara ups ante over Cyprus gas


With Turkey upping the ante with regard to drilling operations by US energy giant ExxonMobil in Block 10 of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, a US State Department official reiterated on Monday that Washington discourages any act or rhetoric that would raise tensions in the region and that it supports Cyprus’s right to develop natural resources in its EEZ.

The US has also said the wealth from the island’s natural resources should be equitably shared by Greek and Turkish Cypriots as part of a reunification solution.

For its part, Greece said on Monday that it will continue its cooperation with Cyprus despite the “noises” that seek to undermine international law.

“We will continue our close cooperation stemming from the respect of international law, ignoring any noises that dispute rights deriving from the law of the sea and the international agreements that our countries have signed,” said Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos, who met on Monday with Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides on the sidelines of the Council of Foreign Affairs in Brussels.

His remarks came in the wake of renewed objections from Ankara to drilling operations off Cyprus.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said on Sunday that the drilling operations by ExxonMobil could disrupt the delicate balance in the Eastern Mediterranean and impact the resolution of the Cyprus problem.

“We renew our warnings to companies participating in the Greek Cypriots’ one-sided exploration and drilling. We remind them that sharing the natural resources of the island of Cyprus relates to the core of the Cyprus issue,” he said, adding that Cyprus must stop “its unilateral hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean region.”