By Nazli Yuzbasioglu
Turkey warned on Sunday that drilling by a U.S. oil company in the Eastern Mediterranean is not conducive to regional stability.
In a written statement, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said ExxonMobil’s exploration activities in so-called Block 10 area off the island upon a license given by the Greek Cypriot administration do not contribute to the region’s stability.
“They may also change certain sensitive balances with regard to the resolution of the problem,” the statement read.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling activity in the Eastern Mediterranean while asserting that the Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.
Aksoy urged the Greek administration to halt “its unilateral hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean region", noting that the natural resources around the Cyprus Island belong to both sides.
“We seize this opportunity to reiterate our warning towards the companies involved in the unilateral exploration and exploitation activities of the Greek Cypriot Administration,” Aksoy said.
He said Turkey, as in the past, will continue to take necessary diplomatic and political steps in coordination with the Turkish Cyprus to protect "the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot people” that he described as “the equal owners of the Island”.
“We will start activities in the areas licensed by the Turkish Cypriots to the Turkish Petroleum, in addition to our continental shelf,” he added.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.
The status of the island remains unresolved in spite of a series of discussions that resumed in May 2015.