It’s all about the natural gas and Erdogan’s ego:
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan described offshore gas drilling by estranged ally Israel and Cyprus as “madness” on Wednesday, raising the stakes in a confrontation over potentially huge deposits in the eastern Mediterranean….
“The Greek Cypriot administration and Israel are engaging in oil exploration madness in the Mediterranean,” Turkish state news agency Anatolian quoted Erdogan as telling Turkish journalists in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting.
“Actually, the Greek Cypriot administration’s drilling activity is nothing but sabotage of the negotiation process between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots,” he added.
The drilling controversy has added a new and potentially explosive element to a dispute over Cyprus which has defied mediation for decades.
The island was split by a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief Greek inspired coup. Turkey is the only country to recognize a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north, where it maintains a military presence.
Erdogan also emphasized again Turkish military prowess on Wednesday: “Our assault boats and frigates are already in the region,” Anatolian quoted him as saying.
Erdogan’s government even is threatening to freeze ties to the European Union if Cyprus is permitted to assume the mostly ceremonial EU presidency:
“If the peace negotiations there (Cyprus) are not conclusive, and the EU gives its rotating presidency to southern Cyprus, the real crisis will be between Turkey and the EU,” Anatolian quoted [Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir] Atalay as telling Turkish Cypriot Bayrak Radio and TV at the end of a trip to northern Cyprus.
“Because we will then freeze our relations with the EU. We have made this announcement, as a government we have made this decision. Our relations with the EU will come to a sudden halt.”