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

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More