Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez poses for a photograph on June 20 before the drilling ship 'Yavuz,' behind him, set sail for the waters off eastern Cyprus, where it has already begun searching for natural gas. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey: We’ll Continue to Search for Gas Off Cyprus (AUDIO INTERVIEW)

Ankara is ignoring threats that the European Union will cut back on cooperation if Turkey continues to search for natural gas in Cypriot waters. The Turks have already sent two gas-exploration vessels, and the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member, is not happy.

On Monday, officials in Brussels specifically cited talks they had been holding with Ankara on a commercial aviation agreement, saying the discussions were now on hold. The officials also hinted at the same regarding talks on prospective Turkish membership in the EU.

Turkey’s reply was not long in coming: “The decisions will not affect in the slightest our country’s determination to continue hydrocarbon activities in the Eastern Mediterranean,” its Foreign Ministry said.

Perhaps none of this should come as a surprise.

Turkey doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the Republic of Cyprus, which controls only the predominantly Greek southwestern part of the island since Ankara sent forces in 1974 to seize the predominantly Turkish northeastern sector. That sector now goes by the name Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – an entity recognized solely by Ankara. It should also be noted that Turkey imports just about all of its carbon-based energy needs, and the sight of major offshore gas finds in the eastern Mediterranean must surely be a big temptation.

To better understand the Turkish side of the argument, The Media Line spoke with Onur Erim, a political analyst based there.

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