With global energy prices down sharply amid the coronavirus pandemic, tensions remain high over disputed gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Turkish drilling ships are reportedly prepping to continue gas exploration activities in the region, drawing condemnation from the Republic of Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece and the United Arab Emirates in a joint statement Monday. The five nations accused Turkey of violating international laws through its operations in waters claimed by the Republic of Cyprus, which Ankara does not recognize.
In response, Hami Aksoy, a spokesperson for the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accused the nations of forming an “alliance of evil” in a strongly worded statement Tuesday, saying the group had “fallen into a delirium, as their agendas are being disrupted by Turkey.”
The feud comes as several eastern Mediterranean gas projects have been delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak and a slump in global energy prices has rendered the deep water drilling required in the region financially unviable for the foreseeable future, according to analysts tracking the industry.
Yet the spat has apparently become less about profits and maritime borders, and is now more clearly delineated by geopolitical interests rising from the Libyan conflict, where Ankara is backing the UN-recognized Tripoli government and the five-nation bloc is supporting eastern Libya’s Khalifa Hifter in his ongoing offensive to rule the nation.
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