Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Reuters

Turkey on Thursday criticized the signing of the agreement between Greece, Cyprus and Israel for a huge pipeline project to ship gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe.

“The signature of the agreement on the EastMed natural gas pipeline project is the latest instance of futile steps, aiming to exclude Turkey and TRNC in the region. Any project disregarding Turkey, who has the longest coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Turkish Cypriots, who have equal rights over the natural resources of the Island of Cyprus, cannot succeed. We bring this fact once more to the attention of the international community,” said Hami Aksoy, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

“Turkey is the most commercially feasible and secure route for the utilization of the natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean and their transfer to the consumer markets in Europe, including Turkey,” he added.

“Refusing to cooperate both with us and Turkish Cypriots in spite of this fact, is actually a direct manifestation of some countries’ pursuit of futile political motivations instead of cooperation. We remind the proprietors of the project that such sordid plans will continue to fail in the future, as they did in the past.”

Turkey has long opposed the EastMed agreement. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government insists the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – which is recognized only by Ankara – has the right to explore around the entire island.

The tensions between Turkey and Cyprus rose several weeks ago as Turkey signed a controversial agreement with Libya carving out a corridor of maritime boundaries between the two countries, potentially clearing the way for oil and gas exploration there.

This agreement ignores Cyprus' existence and the economic rights of both Cyprus and Greece in the Mediterranean, and transfers a large portion of these rights to Turkey.

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz has confirmed that Israel is against this agreement as well, though he stressed he does not think Israel nor NATO-member Turkey was looking for conflict.

“We have no desire, and Turkey has no desire for a confrontation with Israel,” he said.