Turkey warns over Cyprus oil drilling plans

September 15, 2011 19:46

ANKARA - Turkey said on Thursday it would sign a pact with Northern Cyprus setting out the maritime boundaries of the breakaway state if the Greek Cypriot republic on the divided island presses ahead with plans to launch offshore gas drilling.

Turkey, the only country to recognize a Turkish Cypriot state, has taken a direct role in an escalating row over hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean, saying they belong not only to Greek Cypriots but also Turkish Cypriots.

The internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus has said it will pursue gas exploration and has warned it will block Turkey's EU-entry talks as long as Ankara challenges the island's rights to energy reserves.

"It has been agreed that Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will conclude a continental shelf delimitation agreement should the Greek Cypriot Administration proceed with offshore drilling activities in the south of the Island," Turkey's foreign ministry said in a statement.

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