ISTANBUL - Turkey said on Friday that companies bidding to develop Cyprus' offshore gas fields would be shut out of Turkish energy projects, amid a spat between the rivals about who has rights to potentially vast reserves in the east Mediterranean.
Turkey does not recognize the Nicosia government, seen by the rest of the world as Cyprus' sole authority, and wants offshore exploration to await a peace settlement between the Greek and Turkish communities, estranged since a 1974 Turkish invasion of the north of the island.Although Turkey has few oil and gas reserves of its own, the NATO member retains leverage because of its substantial navy and its role as an important transit hub for energy from Russia and the Caspian Sea region.
"Companies that cooperate with (Greek Cypriots) will not be included in future energy projects in Turkey," the Foreign Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.
"Turkish Cypriots have the same, indissoluble rights as Greek Cypriots to the natural resources of the island's continental shelf," it said. "Both communities must decide together how maritime natural gas and oil resources will be used."