© REUTERS/ Denis Balibouse
In April the three countries agreed to move forward with a Mediterranean pipeline project to carry natural gas to Europe, setting a target date of 2025 for completion. In June, a trilateral heads of state meeting dedicated to the topic took place in Thessaloniki, Greece. The estimated cost of the project would be up to 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion).
Turkey insists that the Republic of Cyprus doesn't have an exclusive right to the island's hydrocarbon resources, and seeks to have an ability to use the gas fields and buy cheap gas, which does not seem easy because of the French company's presence.
Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 following a Greek Cypriot coup led by militants hoping to reunify the country with Greece. Established in 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognized as a sovereign state only by Ankara. The international community considers it to be part of the Republic of Cyprus.
© AFP 2017/ MARTIN BUREAU
In July, Turkey sent two ships and a submarine to monitor a drilling vessel contracted by Total and Eni. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the oil companies to be careful they did not lose a "friend" by participating in the exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits around Cyprus. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called the Cypriot moves "untimely and dangerous."
In response, the Defense Ministers of France and Italy conducted official visits to Cyprus, at the invitation of the Cypriot Minister of Defense Christoforos Fokaides.
"Turkey will not succumb to provocations. Turkey will not carry out a military intervention in Cyprus in the wake of the French and Italian actions. At least, not instantly," Turkish diplomat Oktay Aksoy told Sputnik.
"We will turn to NATO first, as we are members of the Alliance. We will try to explain the situation. However, if the Alliance takes the side of the European countries, Turkey will take stringent measures on its own, up to direct interference in the internal affairs of the island."