Natural gas discovered off Cyprus should be marketed through Turkey or else it would not be a viable project, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said.
In an interview with Turkey’s NTV, Cavusoglu suggested that all parties shared the same view.
“They are discussing other things to muddy the water,” he said. “If it doesn’t go through Turkey it won’t be viable and there won’t be any point to extract it.”
He urged all sides to agree to the natural gas going through Turkey.
“Everyone will win and the island of Cyprus will become an island of peace and quiet,” Cavusoglu said.
Turkey’s top diplomat said there was no way of getting a solution before May “but we are continuing our unofficial contacts.”
He said Turkey wanted Turkish Cypriot rights on natural gas to be guaranteed but they were told it could not be done.
“We will do it when we start selling the natural gas, they say. If you do it then why not now? There is pressure from public opinion now, they say. If there is public opinion pressure now there will still be pressure then,” he said.
Cavusoglu said there were alternative solutions, like going through the EU or the companies.
“Our demand is legitimate, it is a demand that won’t put anyone in a difficult position,” he said. “Guarantee the rights of Turkish Cypriots and extract natural gas or oil or whatever exists.”
Turkish Cypriots have raised their opposition to the Republic’s hydrocarbon programme, which they say is a unilateral move, maintaining that any offshore wealth also belongs to them, as partners in the establishment of the Cyprus Republic in 1960. Turkey too has claims inside the Republic’s exclusive economic zone.
The Cypriot government, however, says that any future benefits of gas finds will eventually be shared by all Cypriots once a settlement solution to the Cyprus problem is achieved.
Last year, Turkish warships stopped a drillship belonging to ENI from approaching an offshore block.
Turkey meanwhile, has been carrying its own drilling in the region.
In October, Ankara sent its first-ever drillship Fatih to explore off the coast of Turkey as a counter-measure to planned drilling by Cyprus, which it has threatened to disrupt foreign energy companies drilling in the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).