Feb 28 2018

Cyprus says unity talks blocked over Turkey blockade

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who rules the ethnic Greek side of Cyprus, said Turkey’s “illegal” actions were preventing the resumption of reunification talks for the island.

Anastasiades said fresh negotiations are unlikely any time soon because Turkey is blocking the search for offshore gas and Turkish Cypriots are making unacceptable demands.

Demands by Turkish Cyprus over sovereignty of the gas serve Turkey’s interests, not their own, he said on Wednesday, according to Fox News.

Turkish warships prevented a rig from reaching an area of the Mediterranean southeast of Cyprus earlier in February. Italian company Eni was scheduled to drill there.

Anastasiades said last week that Cyprus would press on with its search for gas despite Turkish opposition.

The Cypriot president has raised the issue with the European Union and the U.S. ambassador to Cyprus, Kathleen Doherty.

The government has aid any wealth generated by new gas finds would be shared equitably with all Cypriot citizens after the island is reunified, with proceeds from sales to be deposited in a sovereign wealth fund.

Cyprus has been split between a Greek Cypriot administration in the south, recognised internationally as the government of the whole island, and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot government in the north recognised by Turkey, following a Turkish invasion of the northern third of Cyprus in 1974.

The Greek Cypriot part of Cyprus joined the European Union in May 2004 after its people rejected a United Nations-sponsored reunification plan in a referendum and Turkish Cypriots accepted it. Turkey says the Cypriot government has no right to drill for gas without the consent and participation of the Turkish Cypriot north.