Turkish Ship Starts Gas Search Close to Greek Cypriot Zone

Posted September 27th, 2011 at 10:14 am (UTC-5)
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Turkish officials say one of its ships has begun searching for oil and gas close to the same area where Greek Cypriots are exploring.

The officials said Tuesday the research vessel Piri Reis started its search under military protection in the eastern Mediterranean.

Earlier, Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Irsen Kucuk said the ship had begun exploring, but he did not say exactly where.

The departure (Friday) of the Piri Reis came after Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots of northern Cyprus signed a deal to explore for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean. The European Union opposed the deal, which came in response to a similar move by the internationally recognized Greek Cypriots.

Cyprus commissioned a U.S. firm to carry out exploratory drilling in its exclusive economic zone off the southern coast of the island.

Turkey is the only country in the world that recognizes the Turkish Cypriot north of the island. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 between the Turkish-controlled north and Greek Cypriot south.

The island was split in a Turkish invasion triggered by a Greek-inspired coup. Ongoing reconciliation talks started in 2008 between the Turkish north and the Greek Cypriot south, but have failed to produce a settlement.

Last week, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias denounced Turkish naval maneuvers off the coast of southern Cyprus. Mr. Christofias told the United Nations General Assembly the maneuvers are “provocative” and a “real danger” for the region.