World Bulletin/News Desk
Israel said on Wednesday it supported attempts by neighbouring Greek Cyprus to carry out natural gas exploration offshore, in spite of objections from Turkey challenging the endeavour.
Greek Cyprus, a member of the European Union, has discovered sizeable gas deposits south of the island towards Israel, which has made massive hydrocarbon finds in the past decade.
Nicosia has accused Ankara of dispatching a research vessel to collect seismic data, a precursor for possible explorations.
"We respect the integrity of (Greek) Cyprus. You have your exclusive rights to explore in your economic zone for gas or oil reserves and we think it's unnecessary to add other tensions to the problems of the Middle East," Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told reporters in Nicosia.
"I hope that the EU has enough power to be a real mediator and to take a reasonable position regarding the gas dispute and exploration in economic zone," he said.
Greek Cypriot officials say Turkish authorities have issued a maritime advisory for activities south of the island until the end of December.
Greek Cyprus discovered an estimated 5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas in one offshore field in late 2011 and has licensed U.S. energy firm Noble, Italy's ENI and France's Total to search for gas.
Noble also has concessions over finds off Israel which border on Greek Cypriot waters. Lieberman said he hoped the two countries could further energy cooperation in the future.
Relations between Israel and Turkey were severely damaged after a deadly raid by Israeli commandoes on a Turkish vessel carrying pro-Palestinian activists defying a Gaza blockade in 2010.
In Cyprus, the gas row has already triggered a suspension of peace talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The island was partitioned by a coup engineered by the military junta then ruling Greece in 1974, and Greek Cypriots represent it in the EU.Last Mod: 05 Kasım 2014, 16:35