Turkey will start oil-and-gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, the energy minister said, according to a TV station, weeks after Cyprus announced similar plans in deals with Egypt and Lebanon.
Turkey had warned Cyprus not to search for oil and gas in the area, where it said it also has legal rights and interests. Turkey also insisted that Turkish Cypriots should have a say in the island's oil-and-gas rights.
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos ignored the warnings, and in remarks published Sunday said the exploration deals with Egypt and Lebanon would go ahead.
Turkey's Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said Monday during an interview with NTV that Turkey would also seek oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean, while trying "to ensure the research areas do not overlap," according to the broadcaster.
The ministry confirmed that Guler was interviewed by NTV, but did not elaborate.
Guler said Turkey has exploration licenses for the area, NTV said. Local newspapers recently reported that Turkey obtained the licenses from the Turkish Cypriot administration, which is recognized only by Turkey.
Cyprus signed a deal with Lebanon last month to mark out their undersea border to facilitate future oil and gas exploration. It signed a similar deal with Egypt last year and agreed to jointly exploit potential oil and gas fields.