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Cablegate: Turkey Focused On Political Pressure to Stop

VZCZCXYZ0008
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAK #0474/01 0611403
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021403Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1176
INFO RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS PRIORITY 7860
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 0511
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0377
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3137
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA PRIORITY 6642
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 2240

C O N F I D E N T I A L ANKARA 000474

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR OES CARVIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/01/2017
TAGS: EPET EWWT PGOV PREL TU CY
SUBJECT: TURKEY FOCUSED ON POLITICAL PRESSURE TO STOP
CYPRIOT OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION

REF: NICOSIA 120

Classified By: ECON/C Tom Goldberger for reasons 1.4 b and d.

1. (C) Summary: Recently announced plans by the Republic of
Cyprus to move ahead with a licensing round for offshore oil
exploration (reftel) are of great concern to Turkey.
Although Turkey claims rights to the area in question under
the Law of the Sea, Foreign Ministry officials say they will
rely on diplomacy, especially with Egypt and Lebanon, to
prevent the planned exploration from moving forward. Despite
comments attributed to Turkish officials, Turkey's ability to
undertake similar offshore activities is limited and there do
not appear to be specific plans in the works. Turkey may
turn to a more aggressive strategy if it finds the
international community is not taking its concerns seriously.
End summary.

-----------------------------------------
GOT RELYING ON POLITICAL PRESSURE FOR NOW
-----------------------------------------

2. (C) The Cypriot Government's announcement that it would
go forward with a first licensing round for the exploration
and exploitation of potential offshore oil and natural gas
deposits (reftel) touched off great concerns among the
Turkish public and Turkish officials. Foreign Ministry
Maritime Affairs officials told us Turkey would pressure
Lebanon and Egypt to step back from the recently signed
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) agreements and consider the
political implications. They made the legal argument that
since the Mediterranean is a semi-enclosed sea, the Law of
the Sea requires that a country must consult all other
countries bordering the sea when delineating jurisdiction,
something they claim the GOC did not do prior to signing the
EEZ agreements or announcing the tender. In addition, Turkey
claims jurisdiction for some areas west of 32 degrees, 16
minutes, 18 seconds, and believes it has rights to six of the
13 GOC-designated areas.

3. (SBU) In addition to the legal argument, the MFA
stressed the political argument that the Greek Cypriots do
not exercise sovereignty over the entire island and therefore
cannot sign agreements that affect the northern half without
taking the views of the Turkish Cypriots into consideration.
Furthermore, they believe the agreements increase incentives
for Greek Cyprus to continue to deflect efforts to find a
political solution to the Cyprus issue. Turkish objections
have been conveyed to the UN and other internty of the
Cyprus problem," and "refrain from actions that may harm the
search for a comprehensive settlement."

--------------------------------------------- ---
LARGE COMPANIES INTERESTED BUT SITUATION COMPLEX
--------------------------------------------- ---

4. (C) BP representatives in Turkey told us BP is
interested in the Cyprus off-shore blocks because of their
proximity to Egypt Nile delta off-shore gas fields on which
they are active. They described the Cyprus blocks as
"frontier" because they are completely unexplored. BP said
that the Turkish embassy in London had approached their UK
headquarters with Turkey's concerns. BP informed told the
embassy the company had decided to purchase the seismic data,
as a prerequisite to potential participation in the tender -
after a six-month analysis period. BP characterized this as
a long-term process and noted they would assess all the
information before taking any other action. BP is well aware
of the importance of Turkey to its global operations,
including the BTC oil pipeline, the South Caucasus gas
pipeline, and Bosphorus shipping, and these would factor into
a decision on tender participation. BP is has also made
informal contacts with the Turkish navy, which said that it
is monitoring the situation closely, but has no intention to
intervene with force.

5. (C) Perhaps mindful of the inconsistency, MFA and
Turkish energy ministry officials downplayed initial
statements attributed to Turkish officials that state oil
company TPAO would pursue its own hydrocarbon exploration in
the disputed area. They told us there are no specific plans
in this regard and note that TPAO has limited capacity of its
own, although it could always work with foreign contractors.
BP said that TPAO has an old seismic vessel which had done
limited exploration in the Aegean. The company also said
that the waters north of the "TRNC" are less attractive
geologically.

-------------------------------------------
WITH THE CYPRUS ISSUE, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
---------------------------

a political settlement to the
Cyprus question. If as the situation unfolds the GOT feels
that the international community, including its Mediterranean
neighbors, is not seriously considering its concerns, the
Turks may deploy a more aggressive strategy that could
escalate tensions.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/

WILSON

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