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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs