News / Europe

Gas, Oil Exploration Complicates Turkey, Cyprus Talks

A helicopter ferrying workers to an offshore oil and gas rig belonging to Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. takes off from Cyprus' Limassol port, September 19, 2011.
A helicopter ferrying workers to an offshore oil and gas rig belonging to Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. takes off from Cyprus' Limassol port, September 19, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio

Cyprus appears to be headed for a showdown with Turkey over Nicosia's oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.  The drilling may harm the ongoing reunification talks.

Relations between Turkey and Cyprus have soured increasingly after the internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government started drilling off the divided island, Monday.

The director of Cyprus's energy service, Solon Kassinis, says the process could take several months to complete.

"It's going to continue, I envisage, between two to three months - based on the difficulties we might find. But, our program is to last for 73 days," said Kassinis.

The move to push ahead with drilling has irked breakaway Turkish Cypriots in the northern sector of this divided island. They insist that any natural reserves discovered belong to both sides.

In 2008, the Cyprus government signed a production-sharing contract with American-based Noble Energy for exploration activities in an economic zone southeast of the island. The area borders Israeli waters.

In response to the drilling, Ankara has issued a barrage of strong threats against the Cyprus government, including suggestions that military aircraft, frigates and torpedo boats will move toward the drilling zone.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz describes the exploration as a provocation and is calling for an immediate halt to the work, warning that, in retaliation, Ankara will send its own research ships to begin oil and gas exploration next week.

Despite the threats, the Cyprus government has stood firm and refuses to accept Turkey's demands. Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Marcoullis says her country has a legal right to explore for oil and gas, adding that they have the backing of the international community.

"We have the full support of the international community on this: that Cyprus is a sovereign member state, whether the Republic of Turkey likes it or not - or acknowledges this reality or not - but we are a fully-fledged member of the international community, the United Nations, the European Union and, as a sovereign member state, we have entered into agreements and, in the particular case, we have ratified the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, which by the way Turkey has not," Marcoullis said.

The real fear is that the drilling program could endanger the survival of the faltering U.N.-sponsored peace talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders.

After two-years of dialogue, there still remains little indication of any fruitful progress. In recent months, the U.N. has expressed concern and some impatience at the situation and urged that greater effort be made.

Fearful that the exploration issue could interfere with the talks, U.N. envoy Lisa Buttenheim insists the issue is not directly related to the peace process and has not been discussed in the talks.

"It should be understood that natural resources, if they are discovered, would be for the benefit of all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, under the framework of a federal united Cyprus," said Buttenheim.  "The United Nations would appeal to all involved to resolve this matter in a peaceful manner and look beyond the issues to the potential benefits that a united Cyprus can bring to Cypriots and to the region."

Both leaders have reasserted their determination to continue talks to seek a peaceful solution, but neither has ventured any proposal for compromise on the drilling issue. Instead, they point the finger at each other for the increased tension in the region.

Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, but has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the island in response to a coup in Nicosia, backed by the Greek military government then in power in Athens.

The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Kurdish service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs