After repeated attempts to block the republic of Cyprus from conducting hydrocarbons explorations in its Exclusive Economic Zone, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that Cyprus’ “unilateral” energy programme represents a threat to regional security.
“The region of the Eastern Mediterranean will face a constant threat, if the Greek-Cypriot side continues its unilateral operations,” Erdogan said in an address to Chatham House, the renowned international affairs think tank in London, as the Cyprus News Agency reported.
Erdogan blamed the Greek-Cypriot side for the impasse in efforts to reach a Cyprus settlement, alleging that “it did not come closer to establishing a cooperative governing arrangement based on equality with the Turkish-Cypriots”.
“The Turkish-Cypriots side, with the strong support of Turkey, over the last half century has exerted constant efforts towards a solution,” he said.
UN-sponsored Cyprus talks in Crans Montana, Switzerland, in July, 2017, collapsed over security issues, after Ankara refused to remove its troops and abolish the Treaty of Guarantee, which it used as a pretext to invade and occupy nearly 40 percent of the island in 1974.
On 11 May, Turkish Energy Minister Berat Bayrak announced that Turkey will begin its own oil and gas drilling in the Mediterranean, but did not specify the location, and whether it will be within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.
Meanwhile, in March, Erdogan said that Turkey is stably proceeding towards energy independence, and that in that framework it will display the same decisiveness as regards Mediterranean hydrocarbons reserves, “in order to protect the rights of our country and of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” a reference to the occupation regime in northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Turkey.