Wednesday

27th Jul 2016

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels