Turkey warned Lebanon and Egypt not to activate their oil and gas exploration deals signed with Cyprus, claiming that Turkey and Turkish Cypriots also had rights in the region.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement the government is “determined to protect its rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and will not allow attempts to erode them.”
On the other hand, Cypriot government spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis described the situation in a statement as “an unacceptable provocation” and “an open threat” against Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt and peace and stability in the area.
Speaking on Cypriot State Radio, Minister of Commerce Antonis Michaelides said Cyprus should have the freedom as a member of the European Union and the United nations to “defend its statehood.”
Lebanon and Cyprus signed an agreement for the delineation of an undersea border on Jan. 17 to facilitate future oil and gas exploration between the two east Mediterranean countries.
The seabed separating Lebanon and Cyprus is believed to hold significant crude oil and natural gas deposits. PGS, the Norwegian energy consulting firm has begun a 3-D seismic survey to determine the volume of exploitable hydrocarbon reserves off the Lebanese coast.
The exclusive zone agreement is signed to spot the underwater areas where each country can conduct exploration and exploitation work once oil or gas is discovered.
A similar agreement signed between Egypt and Cyprus allowed for the joint exploitation of potential undersea oil and gas fields between the two countries.
On the other side, the president of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos said that he has received assurances from Egypt and Lebanon that they will go ahead with oil and gas exploration deals despite the Turkish threats.
(International Herald Tribune)