Tuesday

21st Feb 2017

Turkey seeks EU help to avert Cyprus gas crisis

Turkey's ambassador to the EU has said member states should urge Cyprus to "see reason" in order to stop a dispute over gas exploration from getting worse.

"Europe, which has an interest in this, should say to the Greek Cypriot authorities that it is inadvisable to raise the stakes, because they are raising the stakes. We are not the ones who sarted exploration in disputed waters ... the EU can tell the Greek Cypriots they have to be reasonable," Selim Kuneralp told EUobserver in an interview on Monday (12 September).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Gas storage tank in Larnaka, Cyprus (Photo: Gaspa)

"These are resoures that belong to both communities on the island ... and until such time as this has happened [an agreement on how to share them] we feel it is highly inappropriate for exploration to begin."

Greek Cypriot authorities in Nicosia have hired US company Noble to start drilling later this month at a 6,000-square-kilometre field called Block 12, situated under the Mediterranean Sea to the south of the island.

Cyprus was split in two in 1974, with the Turkish military still present in support of the largely unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Asked by EUobserver if Turkey would use warships to stop Noble from going ahead if necessary, Kuneralp said: "I hope it will not come to that and the Greek Cypriots will see reason ... I didn't mention warships. I think it's better to hope that reason will prevail."

He made clear that the bad feeling between Ankara and Nicosia will see EU-Turkey relations put on hold when Cyprus takes over the rotating EU presidency in late 2012, however.

With each presidency currently holding around 20 sectoral meetings with EU countries and EU candidate countries, such as Turkey, on its home territory during its six-month tenure, Kuneralp said Turkey will not come: "We would definitely not attend any such meetings that fall in the future period of the Greek Cypriot presidency, so relations would in effect be frozen."

For its part, Cyprus has in recent months lobbied EU friends to make sure the gas operation goes ahead.

German EU energy commissioner Gunther Oetteinger in a statement earlier this month said: "The EU urges Turkey to refrain from any kind of threat, sources of friction or action which could negatively affect good neighbourly relations". Greek foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis in August said it is Cyprus' "sovereign right" to go ahead.

Meanwhile, Turkey is less shy about using naval assets to settle disputes elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

Turning to the row with Israel over its refusal to apologise for killing nine Turkish citizens on board a Gaza-bound flotilla last year, Kuneralp said the Turkish navy will probably help any future efforts to break Israel's maritime blockade on the strip.

"As far as I know, there are no plans to send another flotilla. But if the blockade on Gaza is maintained there will be talk of another flotilla [before long]," he told this website. "We would not allow a repetition of last year's events and there would be some sort of military escort, but we're not there yet."

He added that the Turkish foreign minister or prime minister will in early October speak out on Gaza at the UN General Assembly in New York, with NGOs unlikely to start planning new missions until they see how UN members respond.

Early reactions to Turkey's hawkish Gaza policy from the NGOs which planned the ill-fated 2010 operation indicate that it might have misjudged the situation.

Speaking to EUobserver on Monday, Izzet Sahin, a spokesman for the Turkey-based IHH, the main group behind the 2010 mission, said Turkish warships might in future escort Turkish government aid vessels to Gaza, but that his NGO wants to keep clear lines of division between charity work and regional politics.

"As an NGO, we did not ask for this kind of escort or help last time because we are independent. As an NGO we co-operate with other NGOs but not states. States have their own agendas," he said.

Italy voices concern about Israel-Turkey dispute

Italy has said the massive falling out between Turkey and Israel could spell trouble in terms of Middle East stability. But some EU countries are more sanguine about the dispute.

Cyprus-Turkey gas dispute escalates

Turkish vessel the Piri Reis has set sail to drill for gas in waters claimed by EU member Cyprus amid talk of a potential new military confrontation after 35 years of peace.

Former Turkish ambassador: 'EU dream is dead'

Turkey's former ambassador to the EU has described it as a spent force in world affairs, amid general acceptance EU-Turkey accession talks are going nowhere.

EU leaders tell Turkey to 'respect' Cyprus

EU leaders are planning to tell Turkey to "fully respect" Cyprus when it takes over the rotating presidency next year after Turkey threatened to boycott meetings.

Interview

'Don't push Turkey away', says writer Elif Shafak

Novelist and essayist Elif Shafak said that isolating Turkey would "play into the hands of populism" and that liberals everywhere should defend their values with "emotional intelligence".

News in Brief

  1. Romanian parliament buries controversial corruption decree
  2. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  3. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive
  4. Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes
  5. German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow
  6. German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank
  7. France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March
  8. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  2. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  3. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  4. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  7. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  8. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  9. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  10. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  11. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  12. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"

Latest News

  1. Should Europeans spend more on defence?
  2. Dieselgate: EU disappointed with VW's treatment of customers
  3. French police raid Le Pen's party office
  4. The Armenia-Azerbaijan war: A refugee's story
  5. Greece and creditors break bailout deadlock
  6. Internal EU report exposes Libya turmoil
  7. EU commissioner condemns 'delay' in post-Dieselgate reform
  8. Sweden fights back as foreign leaders make up bad news