Turkey is considering unification with North Cyprus as the ultimate in a range of measures it could take in response to rising tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean over offshore hydrocarbon resources, the Turkish pro-government ‘Yeni Şafak’ newspaper reported.
The European Council has said it was considering taking measures against Turkey because of its drilling activities off the coast of Cyprus. Turkey claims part of what Cyprus sees as its offshore Exclusive Economic Zone and has sent two ships there, guarded by naval vessels, to drill for gas.
Turkey also says Turkish Cypriots, in a breakaway state in the north of the island only recognised by Ankara, should also get a share in the revenues from large discoveries of offshore gas.
Unifying North Cyprus is the last in a range of measures Turkey is considering to counter pressure from the internationally recognised Cypriot government in the south of the island and its ally Greece, both EU members, as well as the United States, Yeni Şafak said.
The measures include opening up the Cypriot former resort of Varosha to settlement, said the newspaper, which is close to elements within the Turkish government.
The Turkish Cypriot government said on Monday it planned to make an inventory of property in Varosha, which has been kept as a ghost town since Turkish troops invaded Cyprus following a Greek Cypriot coup in 1974. A 1984 UN resolution prohibits any attempt to resettle Varosha with anyone other than its former inhabitants
“Ankara, up to now, was keeping the Varosha region closed as it was before as an indication of goodwill for establishing peace. The Varosha move opens the way to a process that may end with the unification of Turkey,” Yeni Şafak speculated.