Turkey will start its own exploration operations for natural resources in licensed areas of Northern Cyprus, the spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry said on Nov. 18.
"We will start activities in the areas licensed by the Turkish Cypriots to Turkish Petroleum, in addition to our continental shelf," Aksoy said in a written statement responding to a question regarding the commencement of operations by the American company ExxonMobil in the so-called Block 10 area off the island upon a license given by the Republic of Cyprus.
Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus -who do not have diplomatic relations- are both planning hydrocarbon research in the Mediterranean Sea for natural gas reserves. Off the divided island of Cyprus, Turkish-populated Northern Cyprus, who are supported by Ankara, say any offshore resources that Republic of Cyprus tap into must be shared.
Turkey says that parts of some blocks Cyprus has designated for drilling fall inside its own continental shelf. Turkey also argues that any hydrocarbon exploration ignores the rights of Northern Cyprus to the island nation's natural resources.
Turkish government warned energy companies on Sunday against working with the Cypriot government in carrying out exploratory drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, saying such activities could damage regional stability.
"We renew our warnings to companies participating in the Greek Cypriots' one-sided exploration and drilling. We remind them that sharing the natural resources of the island of Cyprus relates to the core of the Cyprus issue," Aksoy said in the statement.
Last month, Turkey complained that a Greek frigate had hounded a Turkish exploration ship west of Cyprus. Greece denied the charges and Cyprus accused Turkey of stirring tension.