Greek Cyprus to complain to UN over Turkish expulsion of gas-seeking ship

Photo: Greek Cyprus to complain to UN over Turkish expulsion of gas-seeking ship  / Turkey

Greek Cyprus will complain to the United Nations, it said on Feb. 3, after the Turkish navy expelled a ship looking for gas in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Turkey disputes Greek Cyprus's rights to a swathe of sea to the island's south and southeast that are rich in natural gas reserves, adding to long-standing tensions between the neighbors.

The Turkish military said that one of its ships radioed a Norwegian vessel sailing in what it described as its maritime zone, ordering it to leave the area on the night of Feb. 1. There was no further incident.

The ship was carrying out research for Total, one of three hydrocarbon companies licensed by Greek Cyprus to search for gas, Greek Cypriot authorities said.

"We will continue to monitor the area very closely," a Turkish official said.

Greek Cyprus says the waters are part of its own offshore area, where it has awarded research concessions to France's Total, U.S. company Noble Energy and South Korea's Kogas.

"This provocative behavior by Ankara in no way affects plans to exploit the hydrocarbons of our country," a government spokesman said.

Greek Cyprus said the ship incident did not bode well for a rapid resumption of long-stalled reunification talks.

"I think they should seriously consider whether, under these circumstances, the climate is conducive to starting talks," said Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

Turkey has strongly protested against Greek Cyprus' energy exploration in the Mediterranean, branding the moves illegal and starting its own exploratory drilling off Turkish northern Cyprus. The Turkish government says all revenues obtained from the drilling operations off the coast of Cyprus should be distributed between Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus and have frequently warned that Turkey would undertake unilateral drilling in the event of any failure to equitably share revenues.

Ankara had also warned companies could be shut out of future Turkish energy investments if they become involved in Greek Cypriot energy exploration work.

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