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Olgun: no gas deal, no Cyprus settlement

Turkish Cypriot negotiator Ergun Olgun

A peace settlement in Cyprus is not possible unless Greek Cypriots cut a deal on natural gas exploration with the Turkish-backed breakaway state in the north, the chief Turkish Cypriot negotiator has said.

In an interview in London, Ergun Olgun, said exploration by the Turkish seismic vessel Barbaros would continue and even accelerate if Greek Cypriots pressed ahead with their plans to allow multinationals to exploit the area.

And that, he said, would prevent a peace deal.

“We are approaching a turning point. The Greek Cypriots need to decide whether they want to share power or whether they want to go it alone with their resources,” Olgun told Reuters.

“Hydrocarbons is a common issue. It can’t be decoupled from the negotiations.”

Olgun said the two sides must stop exploration and exploitation work simultaneously and create a joint committee to decide how contracts are managed and profits shared.

If this offer went unheeded, he said peacemaking could be ruined and Turkish Cypriots would pursue their own exploration and exploitation activities in the north and south of the island. “The offer is to work together. If they refuse our offer we are going to exercise our rights on our property.

“It could lead to a situation where we could start talking about a velvet divorce between the two sides,” he said. (Reuters)

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