BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:00 A.M.) – On Sunday, a senior U.S. State Department official revealed that the United States supports Cyprus’ right to explore the hydrocarbon reserves discovered in its waters, and Washington’s desire for closer cooperation in the “strategically important” eastern Mediterranean.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, David Hale, said that the hydrocarbon resource development work aims to “achieve lasting energy security and a thriving economy throughout the Mediterranean.”
This came in a statement issued by the U.S. embassy in Cyprus, after Hill met with Cypriot Foreign Minister to discuss the “increasing strategic importance” of the eastern Mediterranean, in addition to recent developments in the region.
Hill’s short visit to the island nation came amid growing military tensions over Turkish gas exploration in the waters, with Greece and Cyprus saying they have exclusive economic rights.
Hill reaffirmed U.S. support for the right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit its natural resources, including the hydrocarbons present in its territorial sea and exclusive economic zone.
The U.S. official said that these resources should be “shared equitably between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.” Hill praised the expansion of security cooperation between the United States and Cyprus and renewed U.S. support for the resumption of the stalled reunification talks.
On Friday, the European Union foreign ministers expressed their “full solidarity” with Greece and Cyprus, and urged Turkey to “stop the escalation immediately” at a time when Greek and Turkish naval ships pursued each other.
The likelihood of clash decreases … will diplomacy solve the “Eastern Mediterranean” crisis
Earlier, Turkey sent a pair of research ships with warships to explore the southeastern flanks of Crete and Cyprus.
On Sunday, however, Turkey appeared to increase its stakes by announcing that another drilling vessel would conduct a month-long oil and gas search off the southwest coast of Cyprus.
Turkey, which does not recognize the ethnically divided Cyprus as a state, demands that 44% of the island’s economic zone be subordinate to it, and insists that it has every right to carry out such explorations to defend its interests and those of the Turkish Cypriots.