A natural gas agreement would not mean recognition of the ‘TRNC’ by the Republic, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday.
He suggested that such a deal could be reached through a private company or the EU.
In an interview with Turkish news agency Anadolu, Cavusoglu said that any agreement which does not include Turkey would be invalid.
“We too are in the Mediterranean and have informed the UN regarding our territorial waters,” he said, defending Turkey’s actions in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
He said Turkey’s actions only involve gas exploration and drilling in the Turkish continental shelf and in areas where the Turkish oil company TPAO has been granted permission by the Turkish Cypriot side.
“We used to only conduct seismic exploration as we did not have a drillship, but now our drillship Fatih immediately began drilling activities to the west of Cyprus, and our second drillship, which was headed to the Black Sea, is making its way to that area as well,” Cavusoglu said.
The reason for this is that despite warnings, the Greek Cypriot side undertook unilateral seismic explorations and has now begun drilling, Cavusoglu noted.
The ‘TRNC’ and the Turkish Cypriot people also have rights, something which is also acknowledged by the EU, he said.
“We asked [the Greek Cypriot side] to [begin drilling] only once the rights of Turkish Cypriots have also been secured, to which they replied, ‘but if we do this we would be recognising them’,” Cavusoglu said.
A gas deal between the two sides – and Turkey – would not signify recognition, Cavusoglu said, using the example of Taiwan which he said conducts trade and other agreements despite remaining unrecognised by many other countries.
The agreement could be “through a private company, or through the EU,” he suggested.
Cavusoglu added that despite talk by the Greek Cypriot side that the rights of Turkish Cypriots will be secured once revenue begins to come in, he said there is no reason to believe this is true since “if they cannot make steps towards this now they will not do so later.”
The FM referred to the general untrustworthiness of the Greek Cypriot government, which became clear during the last negotiations when the Republic would back out of agreements reached the day before, he said of the talks in Crans-Montana, which failed in July 2017.
Turkey had informed all parties of the drilling activities of the Fatih, Cavasoglu said, adding that the stance taken by the EU in support of the Republic of Cyprus, is based on solidarity and not on the rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots as defined by the legal framework.
Regarding the arrests warrants that were issued by the Republic of Cyprus against the crew of the Fatih drillship, Cavusoglu said that “it is not possible for us to tolerate the arrest of our people by the Greek Cypriot side.”
He said that all pieces will fall into place and there is no reason to worry, as legislation will clarify the rights and interests of all parties.
“The reality still stands however,” Cavusoglu said, “that the natural gas can only reach Europe through Turkey.”