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1ST LEAD Erdogan warns foreign companies against off-shore Cyprus drilling By Shabtai Gold and Ergin Hava, dpa

Europe
13.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Istanbul (dpa) - Amid a stand-off in the eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Cyprus over explorations for natural gas, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned foreign companies to avoid getting entangled.

"Right now, our warships, air force and other security units are following developments in the region closely with the authority to make any kind of intervention if necessary," Erdogan said in Ankara on Tuesday.

"We advise the foreign companies who are conducting activities off Cyprus, relying on the Greek side, not to be an instrument to businesses that exceed their limit and power," he said.

Turkish warships have been preventing explorations by a drilling rig from Italian energy company ENI, according to the government in Nicosia. The rig is waiting in the sea.

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said he raised the issue with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of the anti-Islamic State coalition meeting in Kuwait.

Alfano conveyed "the Italian expectation to find a shared solution, respecting international law and in the interests of ENI, the countries in the region and of the two Cypriot communities," the Italian foreign ministry said in a statement.

A Greek coup and the subsequent Turkish military invasion in 1974 left the island of Cyprus split between the Greek south, recognized internationally as a country and a member of the EU, and the Turkish north, which only Turkey sees as a sovereign state.

The European Union has been critical of Turkey‘s intervention against the rig. European Council President Donald Tusk on Monday called on Ankara to "commit to good neighbourly relations, peaceful dispute settlement and respect for territorial sovereignty."

ENI has been exploring the area south of Cyprus in a consortium with French multinational Total. Last week it reported a gas discovery in a "promising field."

Turkey has warned against the "unilateral" moves by Cyprus to explore and exploit natural resources.

 

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