Greek and Turkish Cypriots should agree to suspend the search for offshore natural gas until they have reached a settlement to reunify the divided island, the chief Turkish Cypriot negotiator said on Tuesday.
Ergun Olgun accused the Greek Cypriot side of using gas exploration as “a pretext to continue with the perpetuation of the status quo in Cyprus”.
Both sides should agree to suspend exploration to open the way for a resumption of the peace talks, he told Reuters in an interview.
“We will hopefully look forward to finding an arrangement during which both sides will refrain from continuing activities in the sea, get to the negotiating table and find a way as to how we are going to deal with the hydrocarbons issue,” Olgun said.
In October, Turkey company sent a research vessel inside the island’s exclusive economic zone, prompting President Nicos Anastasiades to pull out of reunification talks with Turkish Cypriots saying the move was provocative.
Greek Cypriots say Turkish Cypriots can share the potential benefits of energy exploration, but only when there is a deal.
Turkey claims that Greek Cypriots are exploiting the island’s natural resources for their own gain.
Finding oil or gas could be a blessing or a curse, Olgun said during a visit to Brussels where he was holding talks with European Commission and European Parliament officials.
“Unfortunately Greek Cypriots have managed it in a way that has turned into a curse so far. But we can turn it into a blessing with the understanding that we will benefit from hydrocarbons following a settlement of the Cyprus issue,” he said.
The recent slide in energy prices was not helping the case for exploration off Cyprus, Olgun said.
“Why should we artificially put before a Cyprus settlement an issue which economically is not making any sense any more? Petrol companies are withdrawing their interest…,” he said. (Reuters)
Published by: www.cyprus-mail.com