France’s president says his country fully backs Cyprus’ sovereign right to search for gas off the island nation’s coast amid continued opposition by neighboring Turkey.
Speaking at the end of a southern European summit Tuesday, Emmanuel Macron said that France is “very concerned” about what’s happening in waters around the island and that he conveyed that to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The island was split in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Countless peacemaking endeavors have failed, and offshore wealth has increasingly complicated peace negotiations even though Greek Cypriots say that matter is not up for discussion.
France’s Total is among several energy companies licensed to search for gas off Cyprus. Turkey says the search breaches its rights and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to potential hydrocarbon deposits and will conduct its own exploratory drilling around the island.
France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Malta, Spain and Cyprus said in a joint declaration that they see the Mediterranean as a “strategic corridor” for conveying gas to Europe.
Turkey had stated that it will begin drilling for resources around Cyprus in a move that could create tensions with neighboring Cyprus and Greece over ownership of natural resources.
Attempts to tap gas and oil in the eastern Mediterranean have caused friction between Athens and Ankara.