Cyprus is divided into a Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north. The southern government began exploratory drilling for oil and gas last week, prompting strong protests from Turkey, which doesn’t recognize the Greek Cypriot administration. Turkey signed an oil and gas exploration deal with the Turkish Cypriots and sent a Turkish research to the Mediterranean to start oil and gas exploration in response.
Greek government spokesman Elias Mosialos said Prime Minister George Papandreou urged "restraint" by all countries in the east Mediterranean during a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Papandreou also said Athens backs Cyprus’ activities that remain within its sovereign rights.
Erdogan, for his part, insisted that "unilateral" exploration by the north could damage the island’s reunification talks and said the Greek Cypriot government should not begin drilling or exploiting any possible discoveries until a peace accord has been reached, according to an official who spoke on anonymity in line with government rules.