France backs Cyprus’ search for gas amid Turkey opposition


NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) – France’s president says his country fully backs Cyprus’ sovereign right to search for gas off the island nation’s coast amid continued opposition by neighboring Turkey.

Speaking at the end of a southern European summit Tuesday, Emmanuel Macron said that France is “very concerned” about what’s happening in waters around the island and that he conveyed that to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

France’s Total is among several energy companies licensed to search for gas off Cyprus. Turkey says the search breaches its rights and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to potential hydrocarbon deposits and will conduct its own exploratory drilling around the island.

France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Malta, Spain and Cyprus said in a joint declaration that they see the Mediterranean as a “strategic corridor” for conveying gas to Europe.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, right, welcomes his French counterpart Emanuel Macron during the south EU summit in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Cyprus is hosting the leaders of France, Portugal, Malta, Greece, Spain and Italy for the fifth “Med 7” summit. The leaders will discuss issues including Brexit, migration _ which is of particular concern to these front-line states _ and the European Union’s energy security. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)