As Nicosia threatened to block Turkey's EU membership talks over a violation of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by a Turkish survey vessel, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that gas exploration activities off the island's southern coast would continue.
“The Barbados vessel will continue to conduct its seismic surveys [off Cyprus]... No one should try to create a crisis,” Davutoglu said after a briefing at the country's Energy Ministry late Tuesday according to a report by the semiofficial Anatolia news agency.
“We have the right to conduct seismic tests there in line with agreements signed between Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” Davutoglu said referring to the breakaway state in the Turkish-occupied north of the Mediterranean island which is recognized only by Ankara.
On Tuesday, the Greek-Cypriot leadership said it would block Turkey's EU membership negotiations after Barbaros, escorted by one warship and two support vessels, entered Block 3 inside Nicosia’s EEZ the previous day.
Nicosia said it would implement a total of eight measures in response to Ankara's assertiveness, including lodging a formal complaint against Turkey at an EU leader's meeting later this week.
Late Tuesday, Davutoglu accused Nicosia of seeking exclusive control over energy resources in the area.
“If we are going to agree on a solution, we should sit down at the table as soon as possible with our neighbor and friend Greece, Britain and the international community as guarantors, and settle this issue. These resources should be used as resources of a unified Cyprus state,” the Turkish premier was quoted by Anatolia as saying.
“But if they say: ‘These resources belong to us and the north belongs to you,’ then we should seek alternative solutions together,” Davutoglu was quoted as saying.
Asked by journalists about escalating tension between Turkey and Cyprus, European Commission officials on Wednesday declined to comment on the issue.