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Turks warn neighbors over Cyprus January 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Oil Crisis.

Turkey urged countries in the east Mediterranean yesterday not to clinch bilateral agreements with Greek Cypriots over oil and gas exploration, saying they could harm efforts to settle the decades-old Cyprus problem.

Ankara and the Turkish Cypriots it backs on the Turkish-occupied and military controlled north of Cyprus are furious over Greek Cypriot plans to open tenders for offshore licensing accords on February 15. The Turkish Cypriots, whose enclave is recognized only by Turkey, say Greek Cypriots are claiming all the potential benefits for themselves.

“Turkey is determined to protect its rights and interests in the east Mediterranean and will not permit the Greek Cypriot initiatives to erode these,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“We expect countries and companies thinking of carrying out exploration work for oil and natural gas based on invalid licenses that Greek Cyprus may try to hand out to consider the wishes of the Turkish Cypriots, the other nation on the island. We remind them that they should not take part in initiatives that would have a negative effect on efforts to resolve the Cyprus dispute,” the ministry said.

The international community regards the Greek Cypriot government as the sole legal authority on Cyprus, which has been ethnically partitioned since a 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a Greek-inspired coup.

The Greek Cypriots signed accords with Egypt in 2005 and Lebanon this month delineating the sea boundaries between them.

Previous studies have suggested the seas around Cyprus could contain unproven reserves of between six and eight billion barrels of crude with an estimated value of up to $400 billion. Authorities say preliminary data give “encouraging signs” of hydrocarbons on the Mediterranean seabed.

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