Greek Cyprus rejects Turkish Cypriot proposal for joint hydrocarbon committee

Greek Cyprus has rejected a proposal by the Turkish Cypriot leader to establish a joint committee on hydrocarbons to deal with ongoing disputes over oil and gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The proposal made by Mustafa Akıncı, the leader of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), had called for the joint use of hydrocarbon resources and cooperation between the two sides of the divided island in the search for gas.

Tensions have been soaring between Turkey on one side and Greek Cyprus and Greece on the other over drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.Nicosia and Athens disagree with Ankara’s claims regarding drilling rights in the region. Turkey, the only nation to recognise Northern Cyprus, maintains that attempts by Cyprus to conduct gas exploration are a violation of the rights of the Turkish part of the divided island. The EU on Monday slapped Turkey with sanctions over what it calls illegal drilling around the island of Cyprus. 

Greek Cypriot party leaders rejected the proposal in a meeting held with Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday, the Cyprus Mail reported. 

The heads of Greek Cypriot political parties, in a joint statement issued by the Council of Presidents, said the proposal failed to address the Cyprus problem and “contains provisions that do not serve the best interests of the Republic of Cyprus and the Cypriot people as a whole.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu over the weekend expressed his support for the proposal and stressed that Turkey would continue drilling if the Greek Cypriot government did not accept the proposed cooperation plan.

Çavuşoğlu on Tuesday dismissed EU sanctions announced the day before and said that Turkey would be sending a fourth vessel into the region.