Thursday

24th Jun 2021

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).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 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.

News in Brief

  1. EU: China 'stifled freedom' with Hong Kong newspaper closure
  2. EU sanctions almost 'declaration of economic war', says Belarus
  3. Lithuania pokes China with Taiwan Covid-vaccine donation
  4. Brussels airport traveller with false Covid test jailed for year
  5. Von der Leyen: Turkey needs more help for Syrian refugees
  6. German MEP adds to pressure to move Euro 2020 finals
  7. Report: Vatican urges Italy to block anti-homophobia law
  8. Dutch coalition talks postponed to August

Opinion

Montenegro's membership can inspire the European Dream

Today (15 December) I come to Brussels with a simple purpose: to present the credentials of my country, Montenegro, to become the next member state of the European Union, writes prime minister Zdravko Krivokapic.

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU Commission warns Hungary over anti-LGBTIQ measures
  2. Fourteen EU countries condemn Hungary over anti-LGBTIQ law
  3. EU preparing to lift Burundi sanctions, despite warning
  4. Europol: Extremists exploited pandemic to spread radicalism
  5. Greece dismisses EU states' objections on refugee travel
  6. What are the online risks to Germany's autumn election?
  7. What's missing from agenda for Berlin's Libya conference?
  8. Latest EU sanctions to bite Belarus dictator's income

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us