Turkey and Northern Cyprus signed a Continental Shelf Delimitation Agreement on Wednesday (21 September). Tension had been on the rise in recent days after South Cyprus had started drilling works for oil and natural gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean. Now Turkey answered the decision of Greek Southern Cyprus by signing an agreement with Turkish Northern Cyprus that established the basis for a joint exploration of the natural resources.
The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately reacted to the agreement. The Ministry specified the agreement as invalid and meaningless claiming that "it was contrary to international law and to the decisions of the United Nations Organization".
The crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean was initially sparked by the announcement that Southern Cyprus was going to advance with the search for oil and gas south of the island. Drilling works were allocated to a company from the USA with Israeli partnership.
Several announcements were made on both sides, disputing the question whether Southern Cyprus had the right to such an action. About one month ago, relations between Turkey and Israel were brought to a breaking point upon the international report on the Israeli raid on the Turkish Mavi Marmara vessel. Turkey declared in this context to increase its military force in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The crisis between Southern Cyprus and Turkey intensified immediately following these developments which opened the way to an increased presence of war ships in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Southern Cyprus proceeded with the US American Noble Energy company and started drilling works despite objections from Turkey. As a response, Turkey signed the agreement with Northern Cyprus on Wednesday.
The crisis also affects relations between the European Union (EU) and Turkey since Southern Cyprus is a member state of the EU. Moreover, the developments in the region fuel concern regarding a potential damage of negotiations between Northern and Southern Cyprus.
The USA, the EU, the UN in particular and other international organizations have made great efforts to yield results in the talks between the representatives of both parts of the divided island. (YY/VK)
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