If Turkish Cypriots insist on the creation of a natural gas committee as a condition for the resumption of reunification talks it meant they had no desire for negotiations, government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Saturday.
The spokesman’s comments came a day after the UN announced an informal meeting between the leaders of the two communities, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci.
Prodromou said the April 16 meeting could decide whether talks would resume though there could be other encounters before that.
The spokesman said no agenda had been set; the two leaders will hold talks to see how the dialogue could restart.
“It doesn’t mean that everything will end on April 16,” he said. “There could be a second and a third meeting,” depending on how things go.
The latest round of UN-led talks collapsed in acrimony in Switzerland in July 2017.
Both sides have since lost confidence, a problem compounded by the recent row over the island’s natural gas reserves.
Turkish Cypriots want to have a say on the issue and want it discussed at the talks. The Greek Cypriot side has rejected gas being part of the talks, arguing that it has already been decided that it should be handled by the federal government after the island’s reunification.
Prodromou said if the Turkish Cypriots insisted on creating a committee to handle energy matters as a precondition for talks “it means there is no desire for negotiations.”
The spokesman said hydrocarbons were not an issue and it won’t be discussed at the reunification talks.
Last month, Turkish warships prevented Italian energy company ENI from drilling in a field inside block 6 of the Republic’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Turkey argues it is safeguarding the rights of Turkish Cypriots, but it also has its own claims inside Cyprus’ EEZ.
Brussels has urged Turkey to avoid threats and refrain from actions that could damage relations with the bloc. Last week EU leaders condemned what they described as “continued illegal actions” by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.