Turkish Cypriot leader Mustfa Akinci would not be averse to an interim solution to resolve the issue of drilling in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), it was reported on Sunday.
According to Kathimerini, citing CNN Turk, Akinci would like to see a compromise formula in the intermediary, “despite the fact the Greek Cypriot side was not ready for a comprehensive settlement”.
If such a compromise formula is not found, he warned, the Turkish Cypriots, along with Turkey would launch its own hydrocarbons exploration in the island’s EEZ “because this wealth is common. It does not belong exclusively to the Greek Cypriot community”.
According to Akinci, the starting point for all problems in Cyprus is the perception of the Greek Cypriot side that everything belongs to it. The same is true of the EEZ, he said.
The Cyprus Republic was now trying to extend the “limits of its sovereignty” and to take possession of the natural resources of the Eastern Mediterranean, he added.
In order to end the current tension in the Cypriot EEZ, the Greek Cypriot side should be forced to give up its intransigent stance. Akinci called on the Greek Cypriot side to contribute to the solution. “What needs to be done is to turn this from an area of controversy to an area of cooperation,” he said, adding that an intermediate solution could be found between the two sides.
He said that during Cyprus negotiations, he had repeatedly warned the Greek Cypriot side and had proposed the creation of a bicommunal committee on the issue “to explore together this common wealth”. Piping any gas find through Turkey was the shortest, most practical and cheapest solution.
The response of the Greek Cypriot side to this proposal, according to Akinci, was always: “This issue is not negotiable. It is an issue that concerns our own jurisdiction.”
According to Akinci, the Greek Cypriot side was currently benefiting from the deterioration of Turkey’s relations with some countries in the region, and in cooperation with Greece, was attempting to conclude EEZ alliances with countries such as Egypt, Israel and Jordan. It was also trying to put Turkey into conflict with the ‘big powers’, which was evident, he said, from the companies they chose to carry out exploration such as France’s Total, Italy’s ENI and US companies such as ExxonMobil and Noble Energy.
“By licensing these companies, in a sense, the Greek Cypriots are attempting to place Turkey in confrontation with these states,” said Akinci.
For more than a week, a rig chartered by ENI has been at a standstill in Block 3 of the island’s EEZ, unable to reach its target drilling site after Turkish warships set up a blockade around the Saipem 12000 drillship, on the premise of conducting military exercises in the area. The drillship remains immobilised at a distance of some 50km from the site of the drill.