Turkey Signs Controversial Deal To Drill In Cyprus
The two leaders struck the deal in New York while attending U.N. General Assembly meetings, adding to the symbolically charged nature of the agreement. Explorations are currently underway in waters next to an Israeli oil field that is considered one of the richest to be discovered in the past decade.
Earlier this week, the Greek Cypriot government -- which controls the southern portion of the island of Cyrpus -- began drilling in regions considered disputed by the Turkish Cypriot government.
Turkey considers the initial drilling efforts by Cyprus “provocative," and the Turkish Prime Minister said, “frigates, gunboats and its air force will constantly monitor developments in the area," according to the New York Times.
In response, Cyprus has denounced the retaliatory drilling by the north as “illegal."
The Boston Globe reports that Cyprus' government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou claims, “Turkey is trying to prevent the Cyprus republic from exercising a self-evident right which is recognized by the entire international community.”
The Greek and the Turkish governments have been at odds since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyrpus. Cyprus has since then been split into two separate governments, one allied with the Greeks in the south of the island and another with the Turks in the north.
Only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the north, while the Republic of Cyprus of the south is acknowledged internationally. The island has long been seeking reunification, but the recent exploration developments may strain peace talks between the two governments that began in 2008.
Furthering regional concern, Turkey has promised to send its navy and air force into the disputed region to protect exploratory vessels if threatened.
Both governments are denouncing the drillings, but neither has agreed to discontinue their explorations in the rich waters off Cyprus.
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