Cyprus to block Turkey's EU bid over gas dispute

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — European Union member Cyprus will oppose any progress in Turkey's ongoing talks to join the 28-nation bloc in response to a Turkish gas search in waters where Cyprus has already licensed companies to drill, an official said Tuesday.

The move is one of several new measures that the Cypriot government unveiled after accusing Turkey of stepping up its violation of the small country's sovereign rights by dispatching a research ship off its southern coast.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades will also lodge a formal complaint against Turkey at an EU leaders' meeting later this week, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said.

Formal complaints will also be lodged with the U.N. Division for Oceans and Law of the Sea, the International Maritime Organization and possibly with the U.N. Security Council, Christodoulides said. The attorney general and international law firms will look at possible legal action against anyone involved in the Turkey gas search.

Cyprus will also take actions at international organizations that would force "Turkey to incur a cost for its illegal actions," Christodoulides said. He didn't elaborate.

He said more measures will be announced "according to developments."

Cyprus was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of a union with Greece. Turkey doesn't recognize Cyprus as a state and opposes an offshore energy search by the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government, saying that it ignores the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots.

Tensions flared earlier this month when Turkey announced its gas search plans, prompting Anastasiades to suspend U.N.-mediated reunification talks a few days before they were supposed to enter a more intensified phase.

Anastasiades said Sunday that he would be "unworthy of his public mandate" if he continued to negotiate "under threat."