Turkey on Thursday accused Cyprus of violating its continental shelf by awarding an exploration license in the Mediterranean to Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum, adding it will not allow unauthorized exploration in its jurisdiction.
For decades, Turkey has been at odds with Greece and Cyprus over competing territorial claims in the East Mediterranean, air space, energy, the status of some islands in the Aegean, and the ethnically-split island of Cyprus.
Greece and Turkey do not agree on the limitations of their respective continental shelves, while in the case of Cyprus, Turkey does not acknowledge that the Nicosia government, which it doesn't recognize, has a continental shelf at all.
Cyprus said on Thursday that its Council of Ministers had agreed to grant the license to Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum for hydrocarbon exploration in Section 5 of Cyprus' declared exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which lies south, south-west of the island.
"A part of the license field in question violates Turkey's continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"Just as before, Turkey will never allow any foreign nation, company or ship to carry out unauthorized hydrocarbon research in its maritime jurisdiction, and it will continue to defend the rights of our country and those of Turkish Cypriots," it added.
Cyprus was split by a 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup.
Turkey does not have diplomatic ties with the internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government but supports a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in north Cyprus.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Additional reporting by Michele Kambas; editing by Grant McCool)