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Talk to the hand: Cyprus to block Turkey-EU energy talks
Cyprus will try to block Turkey from any entry talks unless obstruction of Cypriot offshore drilling efforts ends. But it looks like Turkey’s got its focus on other matters anyway.
September 14, 2011 4:13 by Reuters
EU member Cyprus vowed on Wednesday to keep Turkey’s entry talks on hold as long as Ankara challenges the island’s rights to launch offshore gas drilling, in an escalating row among east Mediterranean neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves.
Rhetoric over ownership of speculated oil and gas deposits has sharpened after a deterioration of relations between Turkey and Israel, the discovery of massive gas fields by Israel and plans by Cyprus to drill as early as next month.
Cyprus, split during a 1974 Turkish invasion after a brief Greek-inspired coup in which Turkey took control of the island’s north, has blocked the opening of several negotiating chapters in Turkey-EU entry talks. One of those is energy.
“The position of Cyprus has not changed. Turkey must make a formal commitment to the EU that it will end its provocations towards the Republic of Cyprus and stop obstructing Cypriot efforts in the field of energy,” said Stefanos Stefanou, the Cypriot government spokesman.
Cyprus is represented in the EU by its internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot government.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said last week Ankara was ready to deploy its navy across the Mediterranean in a dispute with Israel over an Israeli sea blockade of Gaza.
Cyprus falls under the radar of the warning since it coincides with Cypriot drilling southeast of the island, a right Turkey contests, and possible cooperation with Israel, whose rights to offshore reserves has also been questioned by Ankara.
Turkey, the only country to recognise a Turkish Cypriot breakaway state in north Cyprus, says any hydrocarbon reserves do not only belong to Greek Cypriots, but also to Turkish Cypriots.
Turkish Cypriots have not been part of any Cypriot government since 1963, when there was a constitutional breakdown just three years after independence from Britain.
The row could complicate peace talks launched between…
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