Turkey has warned exploration companies not to bid for oil and gas concessions off Cyprus, threatening transgressors with reprisals.
Turkey, which does not recognize the Cyprus government, and has repeatedly warned against exploration for oil and gas deposits on the island, last month launched its own exploration efforts in the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
As announced in the past, Turkey will not allow any activity in these fields, said a statement from Turkey's foreign ministry. We call on the countries concerned and the oil companies to act with common sense, not to engage in activities in maritime fields that are under dispute due to the Cyprus issue and to withdraw from the bidding.
Five international oil and gas companies and 10 consortia have submitted bids for 12 of the 13 blocks on offer, including French giant Total and Malaysia's Petronas.
The final block was awarded to U.S. firm Noble Energy, who last year said they had discovered reserves of up to 8 trillion cubic feet, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The companies...which cooperate with GKRY [the Greek Cypriot administration] will not be included in energy projects in Turkey in the future, the Turkish foreign ministry added.
Despite our warnings, companies cooperating with GKRY on natural gas by ignoring the Turkish Cypriots rights will cause tensions in the region and the companies in question will be responsible for it.
Since 1974, following a Turkish invasion, the island has been divided into a Turkish north and Greek Cypriot south (which is internationally recognized).
The warning comes a day after Turkey re-launched its bid to join the European Union.
On Thursday, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fuele visited Ankara to launch a new positive agenda aimed at overcoming the numerous hurdles to the country joining the Union.
Accession talks have been stalled for the past two years, after several EU members blocked Turkey's membership bid.
Turkey's refusal to recognize EU member Cyprus is also seen as one of the main sticking points preventing them from joining the Union.