NICOSIA: Cyprus accused Turkey on Friday of behaving like a pirate over an oil exploration dispute that has threatened to revive tension on the divided island.Turkey earlier this week warned Lebanon and Egypt not to press ahead with oil-and-gas exploration deals signed with Cyprus.
But government spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said Cyprus had the sovereign right to search for oil.
If Turkey is misinterpreting the exercise of our legal and sovereign rights, what interpretation can be given to its threatening reactions? Pashiardis said.
The only interpretation that can be given is that Turkey feels, behaves and acts like a policemen in the area and sometimes as an unrestrained pirate of the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey does not recognize the island s Greek Cypriot government, and backs a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north of Cyprus. The island has been divided since a Turkish invasion in 1974 sparked by a coup supporting union of the island with Greece.
The Cypriot government has said it will launch an international tender this month for offshore oil and gas exploration licenses. It said it would also protest to the United Nations and the EU over Turkey s warnings.
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department urged Cyprus and Turkey to refrain from any actions that might be misinterpreted by the other side.
Spokesman Sean McCormack said efforts to determine continental shelf boundaries around Cyprus were extremely complex. But Pashiardis on Friday, insisted oil-and-gas drilling rights have neither complicated nor ambiguous legal dimensions.
He added: The issue is simple from a legal point of view. … The Republic of Cyprus, as an independent and sovereign state, has and can exercise all rights recognized by international law, including the right of exploration and exploitation of its natural wealth either on land or at sea.