By Jean Christou
IF Turkey wants the Greek Cypriot side to return to the negotiating table so badly it should cease its violation of the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday.
This would pave the way for the resumption of talks, Anastasiades said. The violations, he added, demonstrated Turkey’s actual intentions as regards the Cyprus issue.
The President was responding to statements by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who was quoted on Wednesday as saying that the two communities had equal rights when it came to the island’s natural resources and if the Greek Cypriots thought otherwise it was time to talk about a two-state scenario.
“The resources in Cyprus are for all Cypriots, and Turkey will continue its seismic surveys in order to search for oil and gas in Cyprus’s continental shelf, we have the right and we can use that right any time we want. Any step that excludes one side of the island, is not acceptable,” he said.
Turkish Cypriot news outlet Havadis quoted him as saying that if the Greek Cypriot logic was that “the explorations on the south are ours because we are the owners of the south, while the Turks own the north,” then it was time to discuss the two-state scenario for Cyprus.
“Turkey is the biggest country in the eastern Mediterranean. Within this framework it has the power to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriots,” Davutoglu said. He was speaking after a meeting with the Turkish Energy minister Taner Yildiz.
“We warned the international community and international energy companies that the Turks have a right over these resources as well,” said Davutoglu.
“We said ‘let the activities commence together… and act as a catalyst for peace’. However, the Greek Cypriots continuously aimed to take these rights into their hands with a unilateral approach.”
He said Turkey had been patient so that a solution to the hydrocarbons issues could be found through the Cyprus negotiations.
“In fact we made the greatest possible gesture. We said that the water coming from Anatolia by pipeline could be given to south Cyprus. So, while we said that the pure Anatolian water which belongs to us, could be shared with south Cyprus without anything in return, they claimed that the natural gas and energy sources which the Turkish Cypriots have a right over, can only be used by them,” Davutoglu said.
He said the activities being undertaken by its seismic survey vessel Barbaros, which has been encroaching on the island’s exclusive economic zone since Monday, were merely explorations and nothing more and “no one should be trying to create a crisis”.
“If we are going to remain agreeable regarding a solution, then as the guarantor states, our neighbour and friend Greece, and Great Britain and the international community should come to the table so that this issue can be solved,” he added.
Addressing himself to the Greek Cypriot side he said: “You encourage the lack of a solution, you withdraw from political negotiations, and then as if blackmailing Turkey you claim that Turkey is responsible. This is not a situation we can accept.”
Davutoglu said that with the agreement between Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots, Ankara had the rights to carry out seismic explorations. “And we will always use this right,” he said.
Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides, responding on Wednesday to Davutoglu said the agreement between Turkey and the north had not basis in legality. Ankara was using the excuse of protecting the Turkish Cypriots and showed only the “real intentions” of Turkey.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkir said the Greek Cypriot side’s decision to veto opening any new chapters in Turkey’s accession would not be permitted by Ankara.
“We are expecting the rejection of the demand that no more chapters should be opened,” he said.