The specter of a rumored U.S. military buildup in Cyprus that would draw a major Russian response now adds to the ongoing Greek Cypriot-Turkish conflict over the island and the oil and gas riches it promises.
Ever since the massive hydrocarbon discovery in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in 2011 by American company Noble Energy the island has been the center of a geopolitical game that doesn’t stop with rife tensions between Turkey and the Greek Cypriots.
And now this game is drawing nearer to its climax, with much at stake.
Cyprus–an island in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea—is divided into the Greek-dominated Republic of Cyprus in the south and the Turkish-controlled north. Since 2004, the Republic of Cyprus has been a member of the European Union, and the northern ‘entity’ remains recognized solely by Turkey.
But it is the EEZ—the exclusive economic zone—where this geopolitical game of chess is being played out.
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Generally, Turkey doesn’t accept the jurisdiction of Cyprus over the EEZ, and particularly the process of bidding on and awarding concession for offshore oil and gas drilling. Every attempt by Nicosia to invite international companies to explore offshore has been met with a strong reaction from Turkey, which is constantly looking for geopolitical leverage in this battle.
From the Turkish perspective, the Greek Cypriots persist “in ignoring the equal and inalienable rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot side on natural resources of the island”.
Indeed, everything in correlation with oil and gas on Cyprus has a specific political weight and is highly sensitive.
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