Mediterranean Gas Fields Boost Tension among Four Nations

Mediterranean Gas Fields Boost Tension among Four Nations

Wednesday, 14 February, 2018 - 08:15
A man sitting on the beach in Larnaca off a platform to explore for hydrocarbons (AP)
Ankara - Cairo - Mohamed Nabil Helmy and Saeed Abdelrazek
Oil and gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean has heightened regional tension, especially between Turkey on the one hand and Greece, Cyprus and Egypt on the other.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened action against Greece and Cyprus in the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean unless the first stops interfering in Turkish territorial waters and the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s president has issued a warning to Greece, Cyprus and international companies exploring for gas in the eastern Mediterranean not to “step out of line” and encroach on Turkish rights.

Erdogan cautioned those who go beyond their borders in the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean (referring to Greece and Cyprus) and make false calculations, saying they should not wrongly exploit Turkey’s focus on developments at its southern border.

“Our warships and security units are following all developments in the region with the instruction to do whatever is necessary,” Erdogan told members of his ruling AK Party in parliament.

“We warn those who overstep the mark in Cyprus and the Aegean,” he said.

“They are standing up to us until they see our army, ships and planes,” he said, comparing the situation in the Aegean Sea and Cyprus with the Syrian region of Afrin where Turkey is waging an offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Navy carried out on Tuesday a military drill on Mediterranean waters, launching four surface-sea and sea-surface missiles.

The army said these moves were part of a training to "deal with all threats facing territorial waters."

In recent days, Cairo and Ankara have entered into public disputes over gas drilling in the Mediterranean, especially since Egypt and Cyprus have a gas-sharing agreement.

Egypt and Cyprus are bound by the 2013 deal to determine how to share discovered gas deposits and determine their respective areas.

In a telephone conversation with Asharq Al-Awsat, Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmad Abu Zeid reiterated "Cairo's firm stance on the safety of the legal position of the agreement signed with Cyprus and its consistency with the rules of international law."

He stressed that “any attempt to prejudice or diminish Egypt's sovereign rights in that region (the Mediterranean) is considered unacceptable, and will be addressed.”

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