Turkish Cypriot ‘Foreign Minister’ Kudret Ozersay has said Greek Cypriots could be “partners” in hydrocarbons explorations by Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean.
According to Turkish Cypriot media, Ozersay met on Thursday in Ankara the general director of Turkish Petroleum (TPAO), Melih Bilgin.
According to a statement made by Ozersay on his social media account, during the meeting, they discussed TPAO’s explorations for natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean, the ‘licences’ already granted and that will be granted to TPAO by the Turkish Cypriots to carry out explorations on their behalf, and the company’s drilling programme.
“We are taking a step forward our works in the area of Eastern Mediterranean for materialising in practice our rights which nobody can deny”, Ozersay said.
This however, did not exclude cooperation with the Greek Cypriots, he said, “who are another partner in the natural gas reserves”.
Ozersay said that the Turkish Cypriot side preferred cooperation and that its proposal on this issue was still valid, but “if they do not approach this, we cannot sit and wait and doing nothing, we cannot remain spectators.”
“We will continue taking our steps without hesitation so that the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot people in this area are not violated”, he said.
Turkish Cypriots have raised their opposition to the Republic’s hydrocarbons programme, which they say is a unilateral move, maintaining that any offshore wealth also belongs to them and proposed a mechanism so that they can have a say in the management of natural gas. Turkey too has made 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.