Turkish Cyprus to carry out own oil and gas exploration – Turkish Cypriot FM
Turkish Cyprus will conduct its own oil and gas exploration in the waters around the disputed Cyprus says Kudret Özersay, foreign minister of Northern Cyprus, according to Reuter’s Michele Kambas.
His comments come after Greek Cypriot attempts to explore the waters around the disputed island have been thwarted by Turkey. Last month, an Italian drill ship was prevented from carrying out drilling in the waters by Turkish naval vessels.
“Either we will do it together - by discussing, agreeing and moving together - or things will stop, or, we (Turkish Cypriots) will do the same thing: we will start exploiting and drilling as well,” said Özersay.
Turkey, the only country to recognize North Cyprus, has promised to stop what it sees as unilateral moves by the Greek side of the disputed island to exploit the potentially rich waters.
Greek Cyprus, a member of the European Union, has shown no signs of backing down from its intentions. Brussels has urged Turkey to avoid threats and refrain from actions that could damage relations with the bloc.
Explaining his objections to the Greek Cypriot plans to carry out oil and gas exploration, Özersay said, “Our argument on the issue of maritime areas is not based on geography,” continuing, “It is based on historic rights and the rights deriving from the partnership republic.”
He also said that both Greek Cyprus and the international community acknowledge that both Greek and Turkish Cypriots are co-owners of natural resources found in nearby waters.
Greek Cypriots have said a peace deal would allow both communities to benefit from offshore resources. But peace talks collapsed last year and do not look likely to resume soon as tensions between Greece and Turkey are rising in the Mediterranean and Aegean.
Ozersay though said that North Cyprus aims to solve the dispute over natural resources through diplomacy. “We aim at cooling down the waters, not warming them up.” he said.