By Elias Hazou
ANKARA is clear that the natural resources offshore Cyprus belong to the whole island, Turkey’s European Union Affairs minister Volkan Bozkir said on Wednesday.
He made the comments during a one-day visit to the occupied north, where he met with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu and ‘foreign minister’ Ozdil Nami.
Bozkir said ongoing offshore gas explorations by the “Greek Cypriot administration” was contrary to international law since it did not take into account the rights of Turkish Cypriots.
The government suspended peace talks with Turkish Cypriots in October after Turkey dispatched the Barbaros, a seismic research vessel, to conduct surveys within the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“The Barbaros will stay there as long as the Greek Cypriots continue their explorations,” Bozkir was quoted as saying.
Turkey and the north’s breakaway regime oppose any ‘unilateral’ move by Greek Cypriots to prospect for hydrocarbons, saying both communities should equitably share in the island’s natural resources.
The Turkish official cast doubt over a proposed gas pipeline between Israel, Cyprus and Greece, noting that before all else, the necessary gas quantities must be found.
He said Turkey is only 40 miles away from Cyprus, and the easiest way would be for the gas to be piped to Europe through Turkey.
Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus nor its jurisdiction over the EEZ.
On Turkey’s EU accession bid, Bozkir said it was being blocked by Nicosia.
“The EU is responsible for opening the [accession] chapters. If they open, we will be pleased. If not, we shall continue on our course,” he said.