Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned major global energy companies against making oil and gas deals with Cyprus, saying such agreements could affect their business in Turkey.
“It is impossible to appreciate that some energy companies are acting with, and becoming part of some irresponsible measures taken by, Greek Cypriots,” Erdogan said Monday while addressing a major petroleum conference in Istanbul.
The Turkish president said rich hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean should belong to all Cypriots, including those in northern Cyprus, a breakaway statelet populated by Turks which is only recognized by Turkey.
Erdogan said time was not ripe for energy companies to clinch deals with Cyprus as the United Nations and the international community were still seeking a solution to unite divided Cyprus. He warned those companies that such deals would affect their business in Turkey and may trigger further tension on the island.
“I want to remind them that they could lose a friend like Turkey,” Erdogan said, adding, “What we expect from anyone who takes sides in the developments in Cyprus is that they should refrain from steps that might pave the way for new tensions in the region.”
Erdogan regretted that the UN-backed peace talks collapsed Friday without an agreement.
He said an important opportunity was wasted during last week’s talks. “Unfortunately a big opportunity has been missed,” he said.
Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and then occupied its northern third after the Greek side of the island was pondering a union with Greece through an Athens-inspired putsch. The divided island now has two governments, namely the Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus in the south and the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).