EU urges Turkey to avoid threats in Cyprus gas row

BRUSSELS — The European Union called on Turkey on Monday to refrain from making threats in a gas drilling dispute with Cyprus, an EU member whose government is not recognised by Ankara.

By (AFP)

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Published: Mon 19 Sep 2011, 5:55 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:52 AM

“We urge Turkey to refrain from any kind of threat or sources of friction or action which could negatively affect the good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of border disputes,” said Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz warned earlier Monday that his country would start oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean next week if the Greek Cypriots press ahead with their drilling plans.

His threat followed a warning from the Turkish deputy prime minister that Ankara would freeze its relations with the EU if Cyprus takes the bloc’s rotating presidency next year before a solution is reached on the divided island.

Kocijancic repeated EU calls for a comprehensive settlement over Cyprus, divided for the past 37 years between a Turkish north and a Greek south.

“All parties should exercise restraint and do their utmost to facilitate success for completion of this process,” she told a news briefing.

“We have also underlined the importance of progress in normalisation of the relations between Turkey and all EU member states, including for example Cyprus,” the spokeswoman said.

Turkey has called on the internationally-recognised Republic of Cyprus to postpone its gas exploration, saying the Greek side has no right to do so while the island remains split, thus leaving the Turkish north out of the picture.

Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since Turkish troops invaded the island and occupied its northern third in 1974 in response to an Athens-engineered coup in Nicosia aimed at union with Greece.

The issue remains a major stumbling block to Turkey’s struggling bid to join the EU.

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