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Olgun: both sides should suspend exploration

Turkish Cypriot negotiator Ergun Olgun

Greek and Turkish Cypriots should both agree to suspend the search for offshore natural gas until they have reached a settlement, chief Turkish Cypriot negotiator Ergun Olgun told Reuters in an interview yesterday.

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 said.

“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.

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.

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