Turkey has commenced a search for oil and gas in the east Mediterranean, reported The New York Times. The move might evoke tension in the region.

The NYC writes: “The country is asserting itself in the east Mediterranean to signal that it won’t be left out of a potential offshore gas bonanza as neighboring Cyprus is poised to renew exploratory drilling off its southern shores. ExxonMobil is scheduled to start drilling in one of 13 blocks inside Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone by year’s end.”

Turkey believes that its ‘continental shelf’ partially covers part of Cyprus’ economic zone. Therefore, the nation is unwilling to perceive Cyprus as a state; and is against its gas exploration because in its views, it ‘infringes on its rights to oil and gas reserves.’

“Whatever is found in the exclusive economic zone of the Cypriot state is the property of the Cypriot people, meaning all legal citizens of Cyprus, which includes Turkish Cypriots but not necessarily Turkey,” Cypriot government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said.

However, Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez, added: “We would protect until the end our and the Republic of Northern Cyprus’ rights…against those attempting to take unilateral, illegitimate steps that are unfair to Turkey.”