Risk Of Military Confrontation Grows As Turkey Clashes With Cyprus Over Gas Reserves

Cyprus borderThe Greek-Turkish border on Cyprus pictured in 1988

Photo: AP

After 35 years of peace, the exploration of Cypriot-claimed waters by a Turkish ship may cause military confrontation between the two nations, reports EU Observer.A Turkish ship, Piri Reis, set sail on Friday without a naval escort to explore waters off the largely unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The ship is looking for gas, a move which has angered Greek Cypriots.

Reuters reports that tensions rose between the two nations after the Greek half of the divided island began drilling for gas in Israeli waters following an Israeli-Cypriot economic agreement.

Turkey was upset that such an agreement had been made prior to Greek Cypriots settling with the breakaway Turkish part of the island. Turkish representatives feel that any economic gain from this drilling should benefit both halves of the country. 

Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he will do “whatever is necessary” to dispel Cyprus from its current drilling activities and has made the threat that it can send warships to the eastern Mediterranean whenever it wants.

Turkish EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış has threatened naval retaliation.

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christophias condemned Turkey’s most recent actions, describing them as “illegal” and “a real danger for further complications in the region.”

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