Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned foreign oil companies against energy exploration near Cyprus, describing those defying Ankara as “bandits of the sea” who would face a similar response as its foes in Syria, AFP reported on November 4.
“As we made the terrorists in Syria pay, we will not leave the scene to the bandits of the sea,” Erdogan said at the commissioning of a Turkish warship, the TCG Burgazada.
US-based ExxonMobil, Italy’s ENI, and France’s Total have said they are committed to energy drilling near Cyprus, despite earlier warnings given by Erdogan. In February, a drill ship contracted by ENI to explore off the coast of Cyprus withdrew from its mission after Turkish warships blocked its path.
Erdogan added: “Those who thought they could take steps in the eastern Mediterranean or the Aegean in defiance of Turkey have now begun to understand what a big mistake they were making. It is absolutely unacceptable to usurp the natural resources of the eastern Mediterranean while excluding Turkey and the TRNC [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus].”
Turkey occupies the northern third of Cyprus. It invaded in 1974 following a coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece. However, only Ankara recognises the TRNC. UN-backed efforts to reunify the island have foundered.
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